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Principles of Scientific Management in Past and Current Era

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 2011 words Published: 12th Nov 2020

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According to (Dimitrios & Dionysios., 2012) Modern management was born by Frederick Taylor, an American Engineer. His observation of men at work led him to develop what was later referred to as Scientific Management in his book, The Principle of Scientific Management (Taylor, 1911). This essay will explore the principle of scientific management in the past and current era. It will explain the advantages and disadvantages of job specialization, and discuss alternative approaches to job design in the context of a knowledge economy.

A conclusion can then be drawn upon how to implement scientific management in the contemporary organization with the change of its demerits and making a full play to its merits to fulfil the need of modern society.

Principles of Scientific Management 

(Taylor, 1911) Highlighted some basic principles of scientific management, among them are

Replacing "rule of thumb" work method with methods based on a scientific study of the tasks, scientifically select and then train, teach and develop the workman, provide detailed instruction and supervision of each worker in their given tasks, divide work nearly equally between managers and the workers, so that the manager applies scientific principles to planning the work and the workers perform the tasks.

Taylor, therefore, argues that these principles will define the workforce as the workers were charged with the labor and the management are given the authority and legitimacy over how the organization should be run.

It is not amusing that scientific management has revolutionized many industries because it explains how to work smarter and not harder. These principles have yielded great success up until the 21st century. Increasing output means more hours, employees, raw materials and more cost. Scientific management use logic to show how productivity, standardization, and division of labor to acquire efficiency. Scientific management theory has not only been champion for his accomplishment in company goal but its improvement in the daily lives of the workforce, hence creating unity between the management and the workforce. 

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Taylor's research of scientific management to increase productivity and to benefit the workforce is called the "Pig iron and the shovelling experiment" (Taylor, 1911). In his analysis, Taylor finds that an average worker loaded 12.5 tons of pig-iron per day. On the high end of the spectrum, Taylor concluded that workers were able to load 48 tons of pig-iron per day. Taylor studied the characteristics, work ethics and habit of a top-performing handler. These methods were used to scientifically select the workman.

"Our first steps were to find the proper workman to begin with" (Taylor, 1911, p. 61).

The objective of the scientific management theory is improving economic, efficiency and labor productivity. Managers were taught to look at every aspect of manufacturing as a piece of an integrated system.

(Kanigel, 1991) Argue that Taylor was assisting in creating the modern white-collar workforce by creating a system founded on study, planning and implementing a pre-defined standard. One of the first disciples of scientific management was Ueno Yoichi. In 1919, Ueno was hired by the Lion Toothpowder company, where he increased the packaging department by 20 percent while reducing the area of the working space by 30% and cutting the working time by an hour a day.

Although scientific management as a different concept or school of thought seems out-dated by the 1930s, most of its ideas are still critical components of business technology and management in recent times. These consider: Analysis; reasoning; principle; reason; sensationalism; business ethic; ratio and removal of material; normalization of the greatest exercises; contempt for practice maintained only for its own sake or to protect the social status of particular workers with particular skill sets, the transformation of craft production into mass production and knowledge transfer between workers and from workers into tools, Procedures and support.

Advantages of Job Specialization

Specialization involves giving workers individual job roles to remove the responsibility of other jobs and reducing the worker's capacity to one task in particular. According to (Durkheim:, 1984) in his book “The Division of Labour” He mentions that the specialization of people in society into different labor roles brings more than just economic efficiency. He argues that the true function of specialization is to create a common feeling of solidarity between people. People are united by their common job role, form unions, socialize together and understand each other based on the similarity of their lives 

Job Specialization is a term used when workers learn how to perform a task very well rather than focussing on many different tasks. Job specialization is one of the keys to the success of the capital market economy because it offers a range of potentials for workers and the organizations that employ them (Hamel, 2008).

Among the benefit of job specialization is its potential to increase productivity and output. Workers with specialized skills are more desirable than those with general skills. In some instances, many workers are required to have a specific skill before being considered for employment. Some of the organizations dealing with computer software require their employees to possess certain computer programming language. This is the primary reason why Education is important; it allows workers to learn certain specialized skills. 

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According to (Siobhán Tiernan, 2013) Job security is another potential advantage of job specialization. A worker with a specialized skill may be difficult for an employer to replace. An employee with a tech support company who is the only one that knows how to recover data from a crash hard drives is more valuable to the company than someone with no specialized skill. If the said company were to lay off some of their employees, they will likely fire someone without a specialized skill. 

Disadvantages of Job Specialization

One of the key disadvantages of specialization is that jobs become monotonous. As humans we like varieties, therefore if jobs become a repetitive routine, workers may become tempted to tedious, empty and unsatisfying. Depending on the demands of the production cycle on employees, specialization can also lead to job burnout if the company overworks the employees for long periods. Both boredom and burnout can lead to job dissatisfaction and low employee morale. The use of multitasking can prevent this by increasing employee control over the work performed and the opportunity to learn new skills (Griffin, 2012).

The level of individuals' job satisfaction can lead to behaviours that affect the functioning of the organization.

Therefore, it is imperative to continuously measure the level of job satisfaction among employees for managers to know what can and should change in the work environment to improve employee job satisfaction. Employees possessing a greater sense of job satisfaction are likely to have a better quality of life, greater physical and mental health, more job stability, and exhibit greater cooperativeness with supervisors (Cranny, 1992). 

An alternative approach to Job Design

Scientific management suggested several themes that have been important in business innovation in the following years. The important purpose was to minimize waste by identifying the most effective method to do this task. Using time-motion surveys, an organization would decide how much time each work would require and plan these tasks so that the task would be performed as efficiently as possible. Thus, standard work performance methods were an important component of scientific management techniques. Each task could be carefully planned ahead of time, and employees could be given to do these jobs in the manner determined by the administration (Taylor, 1911). 

Job design (also known to as work design or Job innovation) is the main function of human resource management, the aim is to fulfil technical and organizational requirements,

The cultural and physical requirements of the business holder or the worker. Its rules are focused on how the nature of a particular job or work affects the workers attitudes and behaviour in work, especially pertaining to features such as skill diversity and independence. The purpose of job design is to improve job satisfaction, to better through-put, to better quality and to reduce employee issues such as grievances, absence and some other matters (Cranny, 1992).

Work differentiation is the earliest approach to business design, originally identified by the study of Frederick Taylor. Work specialization is effective but leads to dissatisfaction and monotony. The first options for work differentiation include job rotation, job enlargement, and job enrichment. Research shows five business elements increase the motivating potential of the business: Skill diversity, work recognition, job importance, independence, and feedback. Lastly, management is the modern means of motivating employees through business design. These advances change individual motivation and have the possibility to increase performance (Taneja, Pryor, & A, 2011).


Increasingly, companies are now presenting job-design modification, according to contemporary organization theorists. Many adapting to job rotation, job enrichment, and work design represents the functional change in the organization. Other examples of such alterations are shifting business schedules by introducing the modified workweek, flexitime or work sharing. Major changes in the organization's general innovation are also part of the functional approach to change. Perhaps the most common example appears to be the adoption of the matrix pattern; clearly, the process of superimposing the product innovation onto the structural pattern and the conception of work teams represent major structural change. Other examples include the change from mechanical to an organic pattern and the change between any of Mintzberg's five kinds of innovation. (Mintzberg, 1989)

Reference Lists

  • Cranny, C.J., Smith, Patricia Cain, And Stone, Eugene F. (1992) Job Satisfaction: How People Feel About Their Jobs and How It Affects Their Performance.  
  • Alex Lowy, Phil Hood (2004) The Power of the 2 x 2 Matrix: Using 2 x 2 thinking to solve business problems and make better decisions 
  • Emile Durkheim: (1984) the division of labor in society
  • Frederick Winslow Taylor (1911) the Principles of Scientific Management
  • Hakan Turan (2015) Taylor’s scientific management principles: Contemporary issues in personnel selection period. Journal of Economics, Business, and Management, Vol. 3, No. 11, November 2015 Journal of Economics, Business and management.
  • Henry Mintzberg (1989) Mintzberg on Management: Inside Our Strange World of Organizations 
  • Kanigel, R. (1991).  The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency 1991. The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262612062.
  • Koumparoulis, Dimitrios, &. Solomos, Dionysios. (2012) Taylor Scientific Management.   Vol. 8 Issue 4, p5-14. 10p. Article 
  • Ricky W. Griffin (2013) Management Principle and Practice.
  • Siobhan D. Tiernan, Michael J. Morley, Edel Foley. (2006) Modern Management 
  • Sonia Taneja; Mildred Golden Pryor; Toombs, Leslie A. Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship; Sheffield; Sheffield Vol. 16, Issue. 3, (Jul 2011): 60-78.  


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