Frederick Winslow Taylor's Scientific Management continues to provide the most effective means to measure, control, and, therefore, manage, routine work. essay

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Summary

Fredrick W. Taylor is a significant figure in the industrial development of the U.S. history, he defines management as science, emphasizes the essential function of a manager in production. The scientific management methods have not just facilitated the development of national industry, especially day-to-day business processes, but established the primary foundation for western economical framework. Taylor advocates lowering costs and optimizing the working processes; he also analyzed the business processes, and has undertaken a large number of experiments based on the scientific method (Ritzer, 2004). Owing to Taylor’s efforts, a new kind of organization culture became popular in the industrial country. Henry Ford developed the Taylor’s theory and applied in his own car’s manufacture; he relied on new technology to produce and succeeded with the assembly line. Frederick Taylor introduced a new era of industrial management and created the basis for new research of his followers in organizing behaviouristic (Huazynski, 2000). Today, there is a part of Taylor's scientific management theory in every modern organizational system; for such industries as McDonald’s, automobile and electrical engineering scientific organizations the scientific management plays a crucial role and will do so for the predictable future. Certainly, considering the technological revolution and changes in lifestyle, the methods that are 100 years old are not suitable for solving all the latest tasks, and old organization culture is not suitable for the latest organization environment either; however the sense of study Taylor's methods nowadays is continuing and pursuing the basis of organizational culture at modern conditions, guarantee the original principles for the development of future organization.

Introduction

Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856 – 1915), well-known as the father of scientific management, published his monograph “The Principles of Scientific Management” in 1911. Despite more than 100 years passed since then, Taylor’s concepts remain germane to quotidian business operations. The practical application of scientific management can be found wherever the routine, conventional operations are being repeated many times. In the car, electronic and computer manufacturing industries, in hospitals, in the fast-food restaurants, in the supermarkets, in the call-centres – they all function more efficiently due to Fredrick Taylor’s conclusions (Bloisi, 2003). Indeed, the following ideas, such as: the right person for the right job, well-marked outline of authority and responsibility, at the first planning then operating, training the best way of doing the job, understandable and respective remuneration methods for employees; they seem so obvious and commonplace to modern people that it is incomprehensible how people could have lived and worked without them somewhen before.

Birth of Scientific management

Before Taylor had introduced his scientific management, the traditional “Rule of Thumb” was a prevailing law in business management; “Rule of Thumb” is a working process which based on previous experience and practice. Working for the Bethlehem steel Company, Frederic Winslow Taylor analysed the efficiency of company’s labourers, and proved that the “Rule of Thumb” was noneffective. Taylor used young worker Schmidt as a proof for his scientific method and the fact that company’s workers were not sufficiently productive. In his monograph Taylor described that he offered Schmidt to earn 1.85 instead 1.15 dollars per day, because he understood that desire for earning more money is in human nature. Therefore, properly managing rest and working periods, Taylor demonstrated that a labourer was able to load approximately 47 - 48 tons of pig iron per day, whereas the usual practice was only 12,5 tons per day (Lauer, 2008)

Taylor continued organizing the work of the entire factory in a scientific way. First, he observed the employees and measured the speed of their working procedures. Then, he defined the optimal method of implementing each working process; after that, he trained the employees to work in an optimal way. Finally, he selected for each job the right executive. The results of such innovations were excellent, so Taylor had proved that his conception of scientific management worked. In 1901, Taylor began to work as a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers; he wrote the articles that introduced and explained his new methods of scientific management. Travelling throughout the U.S., he had the opportunity of meeting a lot of engineers and businessmen, as well as the opportunity of promotion his ideas. Thus, in 1910, Taylor’s ideas obtained the support of government. During the debate of the U.S. government travelling costs, the shipowners accused the railway companies that those need extra money because of their poor management. They suggested that railway companies should apply in their management a new method of Frederick Taylor that called scientific management (Lauer, 2008).

Taylor’s scientific management

“It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with management alone” (Taylor, 1911).

According to Taylor, a specific manager’s task is divided into two parts: the obligations that the manager has to do and empowerment which manager like to be entitled to. He advocated the manager's empowerment to divide the task into sections and control them according to the established standard. Taylor asserted that the main task of a company’s management is to plan and control all links of the working process; he also understood that the labourers should be not only shown what to do but trained how to do it properly. Moreover, Taylor was sure that high efficiency of workers directly depends on respective remuneration of their efforts (1911). To the present day, the main functions of modern management are planning, organizing, leading and controlling, and worthy remuneration still remains the important aspect of motivation.

Followers of Taylor’s scientific management

Frank Bunker Gilbreth (1868 – 1924) was a management engineer, who began his career as bricklayer, later became a building contractor. Gilbreth developed Taylor’s ideas by devoting his life to motion study; he decided to study the motion in order to make the working process more effective, so he photographed the working process, made the model of working movements and rearranged these movements in more productive way. Thus, in practice, he managed to increase the productivity of bricklayers from 120 to 350 bricks per hour (Lauer, 2008).

Henry Laurence Gantt (1861 – 1919) was the one who “humanized” the Taylor’s ideas of scientific management. Henry Gantt advocated the necessity of a favourable environment to maximize the employees’ productivity. He also invented the chart (Gantt chart), which became an indispensable tool in the project management throughout the world (Lauer, 2008).

Henry Ford was a person who became a millionaire by implementing Taylor’s initial ideas in practice. “Ford’s phenomena” or “fordism” means, according to Bratton: “mass production using assembly line technology that allowed greater division of labour” (2001). Henry Ford implemented the machine tools of single purpose; these machine tools were expensive, but they made financial profit when being used again and again. Ford made his crucial breakthrough in 1913 when he implemented in practice the moving assembly line. Since that, Ford’s production operated at the speed of the conveyor belts. Therefore, in 1909 Ford’s automobiles were sold each for 850 dollars, whereas by the 1920s Ford’s Model-T was being sold each for 290 dollars, yet still making an excellent profit (Braverman, 1998).

Scientific management is still used today

The fast-food industry, particularly McDonalds, is the biggest follower of scientific Management of nowadays. The business processes of McDonalds have been arranged in such optimal way that they require the minimum amount of time to accomplish any task; such arrangement is implementation Taylor’s idea of optimal way to do the task. The division of labour and, as a consequence, the specialisation of employees is implementation of Taylor’s idea about the best man for each job. For example, McDonalds have arranged the business process of making hamburger by following separate tasks: grilling the burger, putting in tomatoes, rolling burgers and, after that, wrapping them up (Nelson, 1980). Therefore, every allotment of business process requires the specialized worker who can perform the job in the best way, which improves efficiency.  Other tools such as drinks dispensers, French fries machines, and computerized cash registers are the ways of optimizing the business processes as well as expenses and time, and they demonstrate the adaptation of the methods of Taylor, Gilbreth and Ford in modern business practice. Although the McDonalds is the first and the best, all fast-food restaurants have arranged their business process in a similar way; therefore, their efficient and dominant position in the modern market and existence generally is obliged to the methods of scientific management.

In modern supermarkets, special employees are responsible for distinct tasks such as filling up shelves, scanning products, handling queries and servicing customers so they also adapting some aspects of Taylor's concept of labour division.

Employees of call-centres have to work under the pressure of a “90/10 protocol” (the normative procedure that obliges employee to answer 90 percent of all calls within 10 seconds, and to satisfy 90 percent of all queries within 10 minutes). Moreover, every call is recorded and can be checked. It gives the supervisors not only control under the employees, but an opportunity to evaluate the efficiency of their personnel. Such idea of staff motivation was also initially proposed by Taylor; he advocated the fair payment method according to output. Hence, employees of call centres have a special bonus system that rewards their working efforts (Bratton, 1999).

Today, in airports the luggage is tagged with a barcode to be scanned in order to send the luggage to the correct plane. Japanese manufacturers such as Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda and many others all over the world use an assembly line in their production (Gabor, 2000). Hospitals, public utilities, firefighters services are arranged according to conception of scientific management. The matter of fact, any modern retail store is a direct implementation of Taylor’s ideas; shop-assistance divided into working zones, they are observed by the video cameras, they have training approximately every six months, and they paid according to their working efforts. Summarizing all these examples, it is obvious that Taylor’s ideas are still being applied in day-to-day operations of majority modern businesses despite the technological revolution that led to computerizing of all aspects of modern life, and as a consequence to global changes in lifestyle and living conditions (Hellriegel, 2001). 

 

Conclusion

The world’s history is filled with new discoveries, theories, and ideas; new geniuses took place prior eminent philosophers and scientists. Every new epoch has its own heroes, and they did the best possible researches to explain and improve their sphere of expertise. Taylor’s main merit is defining the primary role of manager as a leader, teacher and organiser of a working process. He also introduced the way for businesses to control expenses and increase profits. Since Taylor’s scientific method stresses the importance of efficiency, managers are obliged to seek ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency of working processes, while division of labour and the narrow specialization allows each worker to become highly skilled at executing their limited task. In addition, scientific management gives a company a system of measurements that can control the level of performance and guarantee the quality of production.  Consequently, a company obtains the necessary means to make its business not only more efficient in production but more profitable on account of reducing costs and waste. However, it seems that every new idea opens the door for more advanced questions, and these questions lead to new researches, and the process is endless as cycle of life and death, so there are no doubts that, nowadays, scientific management by itself is an incomplete system of management. Today’s society requires more solicitous attitude to their intellectual and psychological needs than it was during the time being of Taylor. People are no longer satisfied only by financial remuneration for their working efforts. It has been scientifically established by psychologists that productivity and success of many modern businesses depends on satisfying the social well-being and self-realization of each individual employee. High levels of computerization and accessibility of information as well as increased competition are making it difficult for the manager to control all aspects of their employees’ functions. Modern directions of management are considered all these new requirements, so the old scientific management was humanized, improved, embellished and so on, but the principal elements of it, which mentioned in this paper, became indispensible and deeply integrated in all working process of modern organizations. Thus, Taylor’s discovery of scientific approach to the business processes became the inherent element of development of today's management as well as it will be the inherent element of development of the future's management.

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