Scientific Approach Of The Management Thoughts

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Scientific management theory was well known established by Frederick Winslow Taylor during the 1880s and hence the term 'Taylorism' being introduced. Taylorism theory explains the systematic approach of relationships between people and its tasks for the purpose of restructuring the work process in order to increase efficiency. He believed that if the amount of time and effort that each worker spent to produce a unit of output could be reduced by increasing specialization and the division of labor, it would then make the production process become more efficient (Thompson, 2008).

Based on his own experiments and observations as a manufacturing manager, he managed to develop four principles which aimed to increase efficiency in the workplace (Jones & George, 2008). First, revise the way workers perform their tasks, collect all the informal job knowledge that worker possess, and experiment with ways of improving the way tasks are performed. Second, organize the new methods of performing tasks into written rules and standard operating procedures. Third, carefully select workers so that they acquire skills and abilities that match the needs of the task, and train them to perform the task according to the given rules and procedures. Forth, develops a fair or adequate level of performance for a task, and then develops pay system that provides a reward for performance above the satisfactory level.

The Recent Management Thought

Systems Theory

System theory is an extension of the humanistic perspective portraying organizations as open systems that takes in resources from its external environment and converts them into goods and services that are then sent back to that environment for purchase by customers. The system just described as "open" because the organization draws inside and interacts with the external environment in order to survive (Samson & Daft, 2009).

Contingency Theory

The fundamental point of contingency theory is that there is no one best way to organize whereby the organizational structures and the control systems that manager chooses depends on characteristics of the external environment in which the organization operates. According to contingency theory, the characteristics of the environment affect an organization's ability to obtain resources. In other words, how managers design the organizational hierarchy, choose a control system, and lead and motivate their employees is contingent based on characteristics of the organizational environment (Jones & George, 2008).

Total Quality Management

The implementation of TQM (Total Quality Management) in organizations has not only improved quality but also enhanced market share, customer satisfaction, profit, business processes, supplier performance, employee morale and maintain their competitive advantages (Yang, 2009). According to Samson & Daft (2009) TQM is a concept that focuses on managing the total organization to deliver quality to customers and improve customer satisfaction with minimum resources. Four significant elements of TQM are; employee involvement, focus on the customer, benchmarking, and continuous improvement.


Relevancy of Taylorism Theory for Today's Managers

Nowadays the ideas and principles of Scientific Management are still relevant and applicable in some organizations. According to Buchanan & Huczynski (2004), organizations that are producing standardized product and implementing systematic job tasks would likely to adapt the Taylorism theory. His theory is primarily concerned with the physical efficiency of a manual labor to operate in the workplace. Nixon (2003) argued that Taylor's theory for implementing systematic and standardizing jobs in the workplace believe to deliver positive results for the organization, such as; enhance the labor productivity, cost efficiency, and at the same time increase profitability. In short, Taylor's main objective is to form the best man for the job and thus the division of labor and ultimately this derive to specialization amongst employees.

Fast food industry like McDonalds is an example that still applying the scientific management theory. One of the main aspects of scientific management principles that McDonalds have implemented into their business is the Fordist automobile management style where every workers works according to an assembly line. The company has designed all of its food chain branches in such a style that employees don't have to take more than two steps to complete their task. Furthermore, McDonalds have simplified the method of making its hamburgers. Other aspects such as cooking times, drinks dispensers, French fries machines, and programmed cash registers are all methods that are used to limit time that is needed to complete the task. This proves that McDonalds until today has successfully adapted the scientific management theory into its company and it could be said that without this management style they wouldn't probably be successful in the market (Clegg, Komberger & Pitsis, 2005).

Taylor had introduced the premium bonus system where a basic incentive is given to each worker in order to maximize worker's productivity (Caldari, 2007). Furthermore, he also describes his payment method as fair based on output. For example, staffs are given a basic wage as well commission for every sale, and if they meet their daily or weekly targets in return they are given bonuses. This is a direct implementation of Taylor's payment method and it is still successfully working for today's organization.

Criticisms on Taylorism Theory towards the Recent Management Thoughts

From other perspectives the scientific management theory and practices may raise many concerns and criticisms. One of the big criticisms on Taylorism theory is organization threaded like a 'machine' where each activities inside the organization has specific role that has been 'scientifically' selected. Despite the fact that, the objective underlying Taylorism theory is to obtain maximum productivity in terms of labor productivity and efficiency, Nixon (2003) argued if Taylorism theory barely perceived management as a process rather than an end . Taylorism approach did not take into consideration the diversity of abilities and needs within the workforce. Furthermore, scientific management may eventually bring many workers more hardship than gain, and left them with a doubt of managers who did not seem to care about workers welfare. Marshal cited in Caldari (2007) affirm that the value of machine to a business can be calculated on the basis of its efficiency for its immediate work, but the value of employee must be estimated with a view to the probable development of his capacities on the difficulty of the task is increased by the conditions of modern business. Scientific management would then be efficient from a technical point of view, but this efficiency in the long run could develop into a dangerous inefficiency.

In Taylorism theory, each task has to follow certain instructions without given any opportunity of using their worker initiative. Moreover, the particulars of each operation are written in advance as a standard operation procedure whereby once a task is fixed and its details are approved by the planning department, nothing can be changed until another decision is taken by the department. This also means that the management structure of an organization becomes rigid since nothing can be changed or decided on the spot. Excessive specialization and division of labor fades the importance of creativity and freedom. Once workers can freely express their own capacity and are not constrained to a specific task, workers will be more able to innovate and to face external changes (Marshal cited in Caldari, 2007). Therefore, Taylorism theory toward its principle of having standardized and structured task will give harm to the organization because it cannot adapt with the current environmental changes.

Another reason why scientific management theory would not be really relevant for today's organization is because employees want to feel valued in a company and wants to have opportunities to move up the managerial level . Conversely, with the Taylor's management style this is not possible as workers skills are disregarded and they are told to do a highly simplified repetitive task which in effect fails to recognize their skills and ultimately their output.

The Breakthrough of the Recent Management Thoughts and Today's Managers

Globalization and rapid changes in social, politic, economic as well technology have threaten managers and organization as a whole challenged to response with the extensive management problems .The early management thoughts that is Taylorism theory did not recognized that actually organizational structures and practices need to deal with the environmental challenges. As a sequence, the new management thoughts emerged in order managers able to adapt with the changing environment and congregate new needs. Correspondingly, Naidoo (2004) argued that the greatest challenges for today's managers are to deal with planning and controlling industrial growth and handling the growing complexity of information management. In order managers to succeed in today's world Jones & George (2008) believe that the new management approach has to be creative, dynamic, create change, participate in and create organizations with fewer managers also with less hierarchy that can make decision making quickly.

The recent management thought and practices are basically the adaptation from the early management thought that has been modified and rehearsed. Kuo-wei (2005) suggested that beyond the need for worker benefits, organizations should design jobs to meet the higher needs of their employees and utilize their full potential. Today's management perspectives developed from the adaptations of the humanistic perspective. For instance, the systems theory which views an organization as a series of interconnected systems that affects and is affected by each other. Another perspective is the contingency theory. This theory addresses one of the weaknesses of the scientific management theory by viewing all employees and situations as unique, as contrasting to uniform and repetitive tasks. Managers knew that the solution for implementation would not fit the needs of every worker, as a result they used the contingency theory and asked the workers to develop solutions for each of their teams, ultimately improving both production and increasing efficiency. While TQM theory is emphasized on the work of continuous improvement and more to develop the management organization as a whole a in order to deliver value to its end user that is customers.


Due to the rapid environmental change, managers are expected to deal with extensive issues and needs. How managers dealt with those issues would be different today than the early years. Every aspects of life have now changed in terms of needs, problems, and most importantly the management philosophies. Yet, there are some major factors of scientific management that are currently being successfully implemented in today's organization such as for the fast food industry McDonalds whereby scientific management theory plays an important role and will continually use in the future. On the other hand, in markets where consumer demands is constantly changing it will be difficult to successfully implement the scientific management theory as it will make organizations resistant to change, as a result organization would adapt the recent management thoughts like; system theory, contingency theory, or TQM.