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Illustrating your analysis with examples, including those from the course syllabus, examples raised in the case-study/seminar discussions and examples from your own private research, discuss the influence of the theory of Scientific Management in the design of the modern organisation, making reference to both its strengths and weaknesses in relation to its impact on organisational design.
in the early 1900’s Frederick Winslow Taylor contributed the Scientific management theory, its often called the Taylorism. This theory is based on analysing and synthesizing the workflows of the organisation, to improve the economic efficiency as well as the labour productivity (Taylor, F.W., 2004). This theory was considered as one of the best and initial effort where science was applied to management and engineering of process. The chore of Taylor’s theory was that they followed the technique of breaking the work process into sub-tasks or least possible units with an intention to regulate the most efficient method for accomplishing a particular task (Fischhoff, B., 2000).
Scientific management theory has four main principles. First of all, the scientific study of doing work, should replace the traditional guesswork methods (rule-of-thumb methods). Secondly, the workers are selected, trained and developed their skills for specific task in a professional way Instead of leaving them train themselves. Thirdly, the developed method should be followed, tested and give individuals clear instructions on what they have to do, then supervise them while they do it. Finally, the managers should apply the principles of the scientific management to planning the organisation’s work (Taylor, F.W., 1914).
Scientific management is based on focusing on efficiency and productivity. To approach this management is based on measurement of what can be done better and how, monitor to ensure targets are met and control through analysis (Haber, S., 1964).
This theory has several important advantages, to begin with,
Enhanced the productivity as it concentrates on steady improvements in business operations. Enhancement is achieved by the cooperation between managers and workers. Secondly, the Employees become specialists in their field as they do the same task repeatedly; this makes it easy for the manager to have control over employees. Thirdly, Inaccuracy is decreased as the theory is based on experiment and observation for context-specific solutions. With better planning and decision making, accuracy is achieved (Locke, E.A., 1982.).
Further strength of this theory, the mechanization and latest use of technology in production of goods enhances productivity as well. Since there is enhanced large scale production, there is a decrease in per unit cost of production (Wren, D.A. and Bedeian, A.G., 1994). In addition to that, scientific management has multiple different strength points, for example; quick decision making, triple benefits for the consumers: (Consumers pay fewer prices, the ability to get best quality products and to attain a better living standard), incentive is considered in order to enhance productivity and provide high wages for employees and the piecework pay system is followed, Efficiency increased by scientific selection and training methods, Best use of resources and development, scientific management is beneficial to the nation, and the work is carried out in less production time, as well as, good working conditions, a proper atmosphere, and the owners and investors benefitted from the Large scale production.
Finally, since there is a healthy relationship between management and labours, hence they have a cordial and harmonious relationship with one another (Dean Jr, J.W. and Bowen, D.E., 1994).
A good example for the scientific management advantages is Henry Ford when he applied Taylor’s principles in his automobile factories (BBC.co.uk 10th October 2013). To explore this in depth, in 1903, Henry Ford launched the Ford Motor Company, each car was produced by teams of skilled laborers, and, working together, these groups collectively spent over 12 hours building each car (EyeWitness to History, 2005). This process was very expensive and time-consuming. After that Ford recognized the benefits that Taylor’s theory could bring to his operations and took full advantage of his expertise and strategies. As a result, the auto industry has continued to thrive throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, making use of new efficiencies and cost reductions, and leading to regular improvements to manufacturing processes across all industries.
That is to say, the assembly-line process enabled Ford to produce cars more quickly, and at more affordable rates. By 1924, as a result of his advanced production methods, Ford had sold 10 million Model Ts. Also, Ford’s assembly line resulted in a mass-market demand for automobiles and changed mass-manufacturing processes across many products and industries (Charles, E., My Forty Years with Ford (1956); Banum, Russ, The Ford Century 2002).
Another example which explore the effect of the rewarding system in the organisation outcome as motivation factors and offers competitive salaries is Virgin. It also offers bonus schemes, such as its ASPIRE field pay and reward scheme. as a forward-thinking business, it understands the importance of different motivational factors. It offers additional benefits including private health care, life assurance, company pension scheme and staff saving schemes. The opportunity to progress within the company is also an important factor, for example, Benjamin joined Virgin Media in 2011 and went from
apprentice to service technician and then network engineer in just 18 months. As he says: ‘Six months after gaining my apprenticeship I moved up to a new role. I think this shows how the company is supporting my ambitions.’ (McDonald, M.H., De Chernatony, L. and Harris, F., 2001.)
Lastly, from my own experience when I was working in KFC restaurant, I recognised the powerful effect of this theory of how the work is going in there, the work was done in very fast time, actually the burger maker can prepare one sandwich in just 60 seconds, he is well trained do to that. Every single staff has their own specific work. This make the work to be very easy for us, as we were well trained with high skills.
On the other hands, scientific management has some negative limitations like the other theories, the following are some of them, first of all, it’s requires a huge capital which is a costly system and requires more money for planning department, training of workers, and standardization. Secondly, the managers take up control of the employees, so they will lack creativity, and they repeat the same task, their chore is meaningless, monotonous, and tedious which reduces employee motivation. Thirdly, it leads to less productivity. Although the plan ahead is an advantage, it makes the work inflexible and rigid. Moreover, with this scientific approach the employees may feel underestimated and alienated which may increase the absenteeism rate. (Donaldson, L., 1990).
There are more cons for this theory such as, the routine activity may make the employees feel more dissatisfied, This activity makes work mechanistic and treats the workers like machines, it’s also not suitable for teams and groups, Since management takes complete responsibility, there is a reduction in workers role into rigid and adherence procedures where the workers have no idea, there is not chance for any realistic bargaining regarding the wage rates, in addition to increase the chances for financial loss (Aufhauser, R.K., 1973).
Furthermore, unemployment is considered as a major weakness point as men are been replaced by machines, and increase the stress level, moreover this theory is focus on narrow application and applied for certain factories where the performance is measured in a quantitative manner. Finally, this approach is time consuming as it requires complete reorganizing and mental revision of the organization (Nelson, R.H. and Fairfax, S.K).
From my own experience in KFC, although this theory has achieved different beneficial effect, it makes us feel u we are machines doing the work without any chance to create or to make our own personality, and this was the main reason why I left the work there.
In conclusion, scientific management theory has a wide range of varieties in which several factories have used it, and like any theory, it has multiple pons and cones. Hence it is suggested to make a complete research about the theory and review if it would be suitable for the organization and later adopt it.
- Aufhauser, R.K., 1973. Slavery and scientific management. The Journal of Economic History, 33(4), pp.811-824.
- (BBC.co.uk10th October 2013). “Henry Ford: A Century of the Assembly Line”. BBC.co.uk. Retrieved on the 10th October 2013 from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business‐24440563.
- Charles, E., My Forty Years with Ford (1956); Banum, Russ, The Ford Century (2002); Brinkley, Douglas, Wheels for the world: Henry Ford, his company, and a century of progress, 1903-2003 (2003).
- Dean Jr, J.W. and Bowen, D.E., 1994. Management theory and total quality: improving research and practice through theory development. Academy of management review, 19(3), pp.392-418.
- Donaldson, L., 1990. The ethereal hand: Organizational economics and management theory. Academy of management Review, 15(3), pp.369-381.
- EyeWitness to History, 2005
- Fischhoff, B., 2000. Scientific management of science?. Policy Sciences, 33(1), pp.73-87.
- Haber, S., 1964. Efficiency and uplift: Scientific management in the progressive era, 1890-1920. University of Chicago Press.
- Locke, E.A., 1982. The ideas of Frederick W. Taylor: an evaluation. Academy of Management Review, 7(1), pp.14-24.
- McDonald, M.H., De Chernatony, L. and Harris, F., 2001. Corporate marketing and service brands-Moving beyond the fast-moving consumer goods model. European Journal of Marketing, 35(3/4), pp.335-352.
- Nelson, R.H. and Fairfax, S.K., 1995. Public lands and private rights: The failure of scientific management. Rowman & Littlefield.
- Taylor, F.W., 1914. Scientific management. The Sociological Review, 7(3), pp.266-269.
- Taylor, F.W., 2004. Scientific management. Routledge.
- Wren, D.A. and Bedeian, A.G., 1994. The evolution of management thought.
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