Question Gasper Business & Management

Evaluate the principles of scientific management

Evaluate the principles of scientific management

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Answer Internal Staff

Scientific management is a management approach developed by, and closely associated with, Frederick Winslow Taylor. It is mainly applied to the operations and production elements of a business, and advocates a very strict and mechanistic approach.

Taylor believed that efficiency could be maximised through applying scientific principles to the human actions within a business – specifically seeking to identify the best practices available. In scientific management a role is analysed to identify the fastest way that each task can be done and this is then refined and recorded. Employees are instructed on how to follow this best method and are thereafter expected to follow it precisely. This has led many to equate the way scientific management views people as viewing them as machines.

Taylor also supported the allocation of tasks by matching individuals’ skill sets to roles, this extends to limiting managers to planning and monitoring. Monitoring is an important aspect of scientific management as it is necessary to ensure that practices are being adhered to.

These principles are in line with the view of employees as ‘human capital’ in that they are primarily an asset or resource of the business to be applied in the most efficient way. This view has received criticism over recent decades for being insensitive to the needs of employees in terms of motivation and satisfaction.

It can be argued that the repetitive nature of tasks in a Taylorised role could lead to boredom and demotivation, harming the efficiency of workers and potentially increasing labour turnover. Thus despite its intentions it could lead to less efficiency.

However, the principles of Taylorism have been highly influential on operations management and the underlying focus on efficiency, control and monitoring have carried on. For example, Lean approaches to operations advocate identifying the most efficient ways to complete tasks and adhering to these quite strictly.