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Scientific Management

In: Business and Management

Submitted By lorytrimbo
Words 1483
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Introduction:
Historical definition:
Modern or broad definition:

Taylor’s objective in hindsight had the best intentions of creating a ‘mental revolution’ in society. It was good for the economy, increasing output, efficiency, profits, and wages. However his scientific principles worked and are still applied today in modern organizations. Therefore there are a lot of good and strong aspects in Taylorism theory applied in production, service and knowledge industry’s which is practiced in todays organizations-structure, rules, data collection analysis, performance reports, time deadlines.
Taylorism has been very strong in the Industrialization of the BRIC economies, their economies-GDP-are expanding at a very high rate. China has a GDP growth of 7% to 12% during the GFC. However a social cost is cheap labour, de-skilling, disempowerment , silence and marginalization of workers. The issue is will there be structural and social change in China? Will there be a revolution one day against the system and the scientific principles of the government? There is definitely the rise of the middle class whom are wealthy and are diversifying to other parts of the world? Why? Are they unhappy living in China? Answers to these questions can imply that Taylorism has also a dark side, an extreme if taken over its full capacity. Forces of greed, selfishness, disassociation , non caring, non well being can also be prevalent.

GOOD ASPECTS OF TAYLORISM

‘Toyota Motor Corporation in Freemon, California, pinned its recent success squarely on the “intelligent interpretation and application of Taylor’s time and motion studies.’(Kanigel,1997,p5)
‘Taylors work was, and still remains revolutionary. The original seed he sowed has spread and multiplied a millionfold. It has spread from mechanical operations on which he focused at the beginning of his career into activities such as employee selection and training, job design, inventory control, and wage and salary administration. Further, Taylors efforts began a revolution that enabled industrial workers to earn middle- class wages and middle class status. Moreover, it is precisely the application of scientific management to the study of work that has enabled many of the world’s underdeveloped and poverty –stricken countries to become world class competitors within a single generation. (Wreu et al, 2009,p155)…… text has a positive conclusion on Taylorism p155

‘principles of scientific management are said to have informed all types of modern work organizations.’(Wright, 1993, p34)

TAYLORISM PROVOKED THE DISEMPOWERMENT OF WORKERS; DEHUMINISATION/DEGRADATION OF WORK.
• Human being and machine : identical, no connection
• Alienation : repetition of work
Eg, Foxcon produces computers to Apple, IBM, Dell and all other major suppliers of electronic equipment. Largerst in the world, employ over 400,000 people

Quotes from research papers:
‘Taylor, the manager needed to know the maximum capacity of the machines, he turned to the scientific method. He requested permission to perform tests on the various cutting tools at varying speeds and angles…………collected valuable empirical data.’ (Oldham, 1998, p3-4)

‘man and machine work together like clockwork.’ (Kanigel,1997, p5)
‘what the workers ought to be able to do with their equipment and materials……….the application of the scientific method to empirically establish the most efficient way to perform each workers job.’(Wreu et al,2009,p125)

‘separate “head” from “hand” work ………..workers were left with liitle more than hand work. This principle remains at the base of the movement throughout our McDonaldizing society to replace human with non-human technology……………Behind Taylors scientific management………..is a goal of employing human beings with minimal intelligence and ability…………to reduce human activities to robot-like actions so that humans can be replaced by non-human robots. (Ritzer,1993,p118)

‘the one best way as a series of steps that all workers were to learn and follow in a mindless fashion.’ (Ritzer, 1993, p118)
‘McDonaldizing society, to hire teenagers and have them operate as human automatons.’(Ritzer, p119)

‘reducing the number of motions workers made to complete the task, by changing the layout of the work area or the type of tools workers used, or by experimenting with tools of different sizes.’ (Jones et al, 2008,p47)

‘improve productivity by making workers behave in a more consistent and machine like fashion.’ (Wright, 1993, p38)

‘Taylorism represents a form of organization devoid of any notion of a career structure for the majority, unlike other forms of organizational model available at the turn of the century, such as railways and post office. Therefore Taylorism can be defined as the bureaucratization of the structure of control, but not the emp;loyment relationship.’(Littler,1978,p199)

TAYLORISM WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR DESKILLING/FRAGMENTATION
• Measurement of time and motion study
• Promote de-skilling, work split into different parts

Quotes from research papers:

‘ruling the factory floor with a stopwatch.’(Kanigel, 1997,p1)
‘breaking work into components………What got in a workman’s way? Which operations could be improved, which eliminated?..........each element of it highlighted, dissected, splayed open for view.’………..succesion of smaller task ( Kanigel,1997,p2)
Westinghouse Electric in 1929 employed a time study staff of 120. (Kanigel, 1998, p3)

‘Time study became the foundation of Taylors work. With a stopwatch, weight, scale, and tape, he literally measured the distances that workers and materials travelled.’ (Wreu et al,2009, p125)
‘Taylor used time study to discover “what was possible” in improving job performance. …each job was broken into its elementary movements. Non-essential movements were discarded and the remainder carefully examined to determine the quickest and least wasteful means of performing a job.These elementary motions were then described, recorded, and indexed, alongwith the amount of time required to cover unavoidable delays, minor accidents, and rest.
…elementary movements were combined in the correct sequence to determine the time and the exact method of performing a job. This phase also led to improvements in tools, machines, materials, methods, and the ultimate standardization of all elements surrounding and accompanying a job.’(Wreu et 2009, p126)

‘Work measurement…important weapon in the battle against worker recalcitrance.’ (Jones,2000,p647)

WORKERS WERE SILENCED AND MARGINALIZED
• Because of deskilling, if a worker complained or said something, they were sacked.
• Marginalized: excessive control and surveilence
• First Class Man: ‘piece rate’: bonus/higher wages was paid over the best man’s output. Management saw the exploitation of the piece rate. Unions heavily questioned and rejected how one determines the piece rate. ‘Burnout’
• Role of unions: protect workers, represent workers & bargain higher salaries.
Unions actions responding to Taylorissm. Demonstrated dissatisfaction – instead of producing max output, produce half. Sabotage and break machinery. Stikes.

More power to management , less power to workers.
Knowledge of workers taken from them and given to management.

Quotes from research papers:
‘Taylor believed that productivity could be increased if “First Class Man” was used for the job. What he meant was people differ in their abilities and one should select the proper person for the job. The difference between the “first class” and the one unsuited could be dramatic. Today we know all computer programmers are not equal and the best ones can be as much as ten times better. Also every job should have rest breaks so that the worker is not tired. He proved this with the task of unloading ore. Workers were taught to take rest during work and output went up.’ (Wikipeadia)
Critique:
‘ While this principle has a certain logic, in practice it has two obvious deficiencies: it ignores individual differences; the most efficient way of working for one person may be inefficient for another; it ignores the fact that the economic interest of workers and management are rarely identical, so that both management processes and the retraining required by Taylor’s methods would frequently be resented and sometimes sabotaged by the workforce.’ (Wikipedia)

Sacking of workers. ‘Soon after joining Midvale Steel, Taylor witnessed the firing of the man who for years formulated the steel based on experience and alchemist-like rules of thumb.’(Oldham, 1998, p3)

Piece rate: ‘He proposed that a substantially higher piece rate be paid when his target levels of production were achieved……………….most of the men were reluctant to accept his Faustian proposal. Someone had to be first. After several failed attempts , Taylor finally found a man willing to work precisely how and as hard as he dictated.’ (Oldham, 1998,p4)

Shifting of power from worker to management: ‘onus on management to establish daily output standards rather than following the established practice of allowing workers to determine how jobs should be performed.’(Wreu et al,2009,p127)

Taylor saw no need for unions under his piece- rate incentive plan. Unions, to foster class solidarity, insisted that their members all be treated the same. For Taylor, this prevented Union members from fulfilling their personal ambitions. Rather than being encouraged to better themselves, in Taylors mind, unions stifled individual initiative.’(Wreu et al,2009,p128)

‘collective-bargaining labor unions…….opposed all aspects of Taylors methods, especially time study…………….loss of jobs………..led to hostility.’(Wreu et al, 2009, p141)

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