The contemporary organizational operations center on effective planning techniques, specialized management, the division of labor, formalized interactions between managers and workers, and specializations and innovations, which are designed to achieve specific objectives. These organizational functions and operations are attributable to the concepts of the scientific management model proposed by Fredrick Taylor in the 20th century. As a mechanical engineer, Taylor devised scientific management ideologies that provided effectiveness in the running of industries. During his time, the management of industries comprised multiple anomalies and organizations lacked formal managing systems. Hence, Taylor’s management principles sought to eliminate these irregularities by improving the workers’ productivity in their class of work. Although modern organizational designs exhibit Taylor’s scientific management principles, there have been several criticisms against his propositions. Therefore, the theory of scientific management exhibits numerous weaknesses and strengths despite its influence on modern organizational functions.
The Scientific Management Principles
Taylor utilized systematic analysis and experiments to propose four fundamental principles to lay the foundation of scientific management. The first standard involved establishing the scientific technique to substitute the “rule of thumb” practices in management. The application of this alternative was scientific thus provided an opportunity for managers to analyze management challenges in their organizations. In this regard, the scientific approach was requisite since there was a need to utilize systematic experiments. Taylor’s ideas are crucial in solving the problems faced in today’s managerial decision-making and production processes. This scientific technique systematized managerial operations as opposed to the rule of thumb, which was marred by many inconsistencies. Therefore, the development of scientific principles and laws for tasks was designed to replace the traditional methods that lacked equity.
The second principle envisioned in the scientific management theory is selecting, providing work development, and offering training sessions to every worker. This principle was designed to replace disorganized management that left the workers to lead and train themselves on work-related duties in the industry. Taylor noted that a highly competent or qualified person occupies a position and leads the followers efficiently and systematically. The method has enabled organizations to develop a scientific payment system that considers the worker’s level of output and efficiency in the production of goods and services. Thus, the determination of a worker’s level of output has been instrumental in improving the system of management.
Another scientific management principle centered on the relationship between organizational leadership and workers. The principle sanctions the leadership attention to the needs of the workers thus requires managers to develop a formal working relationship through teamwork. In this case, the principle ensures that the workforce adheres to scientifically developed methods. Enhancing the relationship between leaders and workers enhances efficiency that further leads to the accomplishment of tasks within the required time. Taylor’s experiments are integral in determining the quantity of work that a hardworking person can deliver within a day. Moreover, the principle has helped to improve the work performance of every employee dramatically by reducing the tendency of workers to perform duties slowly. Taylor’s work on scientific management indicates that enhancing the workers’ standards can help to increase their performance.
The final principle accentuates the importance of ensuring the division of labor between the managers and their employees. This method allows managers to use the scientific management principles in drafting the responsibilities of workers who actualize the duties delegated to them promptly. It is worth noting that the principle of division of labor is applicable across all organizations and its application ensures efficiency in production. Taylor maintains that specialization of workers in various fields enhances their work performance. The application of this principle ensures organizational efficiency, increases the workers’ wages, lowers production and product costs, and improves employees’ standards of living. Therefore, Taylor’s scientific proposition has enabled managers to delegate duties according to their workers’ abilities, skills, and knowledge.
The Influence of the Scientific Management Theory in Modern Organizational Designs
The key tenets of the theory of scientific management are job analysis, job design, workers selection, job incentive, job performance principles, workers attitudes, group processes, organizational development, and change and human factors. Throughout his explanation of the key tenets, Taylor maintained that management should be designed to look after the interests of the employees and the employer, as well as safeguard organization’s prosperity. In this respect, scientific management has numerous strengths, namely enhanced production and efficiency, decreased autocracy due to a positive relationship in the company, improved payment systems, better utilization of resources, and reduced labor and management disputes.
Scientific management focuses on the steady improvement of business operations. Enhanced organizational production is attributable to cooperation and harmonious relationships between the leaders and the workers, thus achieving high levels of teamwork. Subsequently, adherence to scientific management principles ensures the development of a management methodology that enhances purposeful supervision, selection, and training of workers. Many consulting firms have applied this method to their human resource management departments. Taylor’s scientific management principles play a pivotal role in modern industrial processes to ensure that tasks assigned to workers fit them to enhance their levels of efficiency. In return, the firms reward the employees’ performance to motivate them further to deliver similar outputs.
Another important aspect of Taylorism is a decrease in autocracy whereby the management is stimulated to adopt positive relationships between the leadership and the employees. Democratic leadership was evident in Taylor’s principle of cooperation, which positively influences the workers’ output. According to Bain and Company consulting firm, corporations such as Dell, Google, Netflix, and Apple are 40 percent more productive than an average firm. The high level of production in these companies results from inspiring leadership. In this case, the leaders strive to create harmonious relationships, which promote the workers’ performance. As such, eliminating autocracy is integral in determining the overall organizational output.
Improved payment systems, better utilization of resources, and reduced labor and management disputes are essential strengths notable in the scientific management theory. The scientific management principles propose adherence to the piecework payment system. Scientific payment uses an incentive system to enhance productivity and further provide high wages to the workers. Secondly, there is efficient utilization of resources and stimulated development, whereby wastage and inefficiency are eliminated. Also, scientific investigations utilized stimulate the company’s growth and enhance the overall development of the country. Regarding labor and management disputes, cordial relationships help to achieve peace in the industry. Hence, the contemporary organizational operations based on Taylor’s principles are crucial in enhancing payment, promoting better utilization of resources, and improving the relationship between the management and the workers.
Despite the criticisms labeled against the scientific management theory, its applicability is relevant in contemporary organizational operations. Initially, Taylor’s propositions were disputed for their inflexibility and rigidity as workers remained adamant to change. In such cases, the organizational leadership should strategize on how to achieve greater flexibility in its workforce. Due to the inflexibility of the scientific management model, several giant organizations such as Google do not apply its principles. Google has mainstreamed Hawthorne ideas, which provide the workers with freedom at their desired time. Unlike Taylor’s ideas which perceive workers as assets, the Hawthorne model considers them as important business partners, thus increasing their motivation, productivity, and quality of work. Google’s organizational operations indicate that scientific management principles cannot be efficient in large corporations, particularly those that lack job specialization in their organizational structures.
According to the scientific management theory, companies that fail to adapt to changing circumstances in the environment do not incorporate Taylor’s principles of management. This aspect implies that scientific management works better with small organizations that may not react to change immediately. Likewise, the successful implementation of the Taylorism philosophy requires massive investment, which may not be attainable by small firms. For example, training workers, establishing work-study, planning departmental needs, utilizing massive capital. Thus, the aspects of rigidity and lack of flexibility in scientific management principles are the central weaknesses attributed to Taylorism ideologies.
The inflexibility ingrained in scientific principles establishes a basis for standard operating procedures whereby employees are trained to perform certain duties efficiently. However, workers are constantly exposed to certain duties that cause them to operate like machines to improve productivity and efficiency. Despite the profitable nature of Taylor’s model to businesses, the approach disregards the workers’ welfare. For instance, hamburger cooks at McDonald are trained to cook within two minutes. Markedly, scientific management principles create dictatorship through established administrations by controlling all company activities. Thus, the responsibilities for planning and controlling work are solely delegated to the management. In the process, managers deprive workers of their creativity due to repeated tasks that make their jobs tedious, monotonous, and meaningless. As a result, the nature of work demotivates employees, which, in turn, affects their work performance negatively.
Training workers in one or few tasks deny them an opportunity to multitask or handle multiple areas of work. As a result, the company might suffer if they lose critical expertise. A good example is the loss of knowledge and expertise at the British Petroleum Company (BP), which resulted in a massive oil pipeline spill. The company responded to the spill by closing one of the largest pipelines in the U.S. The audit performed in the company indicated that by the time the spillover transpired, BP had operated without a senior corrosion engineer for more than one year. Additionally, employees under job specialization lack multiple applicable skills, thus making it challenging to adapt to new organizational functions. Consequently, job specialization perpetuates unemployment when the company closes its branches. For instance, the closure of BP’s pipeline in Alaska resulted in massive unemployment. Notably, laid-off workers may experience challenges in adjusting to new occupations. Therefore, Taylor’s ideologies of training workers in a specific way may have adverse effects on an individual and organization.
The theory of scientific management applies to modern organizational designs effectively. Despite the inherent weaknesses of the model, its extensive use and strengths have been widely hailed and accepted. The approach’s four main principles are determining scientific techniques to replace the traditional method; selecting and offering training to the workers; enhancing the worker-management relationship; and ensuring specialization and division of labor. Therefore, scientific management methods are responsible for enhancing efficiency and workers’ productivity.