In 1911, Frederick Taylor W. Taylor published his work, "The Principles of Scientific Management", in which he described how the application of the scientific method to the management of workers greatly could improve productivity. Scientific management methods called for optimising the way that tasks were performed and simplifying the jobs enough so that workers could be trained to perform their specialized sequence of motions in the one "best" way.
Before Taylor published his work, work was done from skilled craftsmen who had learned their jobs perfectly and who knew what they did. Scientific management took away much of this difficult work and changed it into a work which could be done by unskilled workers.
Taylor had the idea of scientific management when he worked in a steel factory.
Working in the steel industry, Taylor had observed the phenomenon of workers purposely operating well below their capacity, that is, soldiering. He attributed soldiering to three causes:
Most workers think if they work more productively, fewer of them will be needed and their jobs will be eliminated.
Non-incentive wage systems encourage low productivity. If the workers always get the same pay, then it is not important for them to work fast, because they always get the same, if they work fast or not. Employees should be paid by the quantity they produce.
Workers waste much of their effort by relying on rule-of-thumb methods rather than on optimal work methods that can be determined by scientific study of the task
To counter soldiering and to improve efficiency, Taylor began to conduct experiments to determine the best level of performance for certain jobs, and what was necessary to achieve this performance.
Taylor argued that even the most basic, mindless task could be planned in a way that dramatically would increase productivity, and that scientific management of the work was more effective than the "initiative and incentive" method of motivating workers.
Taylor needed just a stopwatch for his experiments to time a worker's sequence of motions, with the goal of determining the "one-best-way" to perform the job.
Pig Iron: If workers were moving 12 ½ tons of iron pig per day and they could be incentivized to try 47 ½ tons per day, left to their own wits they probably would become exhausted after a few hours and fail to reach their goal. However, by first conducting experiments to determine the amount of resting that was necessary, the workers' manager could determine the optimal timing of lifting and resting so that the worker could move the 47 ½ tons per day.
Not all workers were able to move 47 ½ tons per day. Perhaps only 1/8 of pig iron handlers were capable of doing so. These 1/8 were not highly prized by society, their physical capabilities were well suited to moving pig iron. This example suggests that workers should be selected according to how well they are suited for a particular job.
· The science of shovelling: Taylor ran time studies to determine that the optimal weight that a worker should lift in a shovel was 21 pounds. Since there is a wide range of densities of materials, the shovel should be sized so that it would hold 21 pounds of the substance being shovelled. The firm provided the workers with optimal shovels. The result was a three to four fold increase in productivity and workers were rewarded with pay increases. Prior to scientific management, workers used their own shovels and rarely had the optimal one for the job.
Principles of scientific management:
Choose the right person for a work
Teach this person the best way to do this work.
Reward the workers for faster working with a better wage
Drawbacks of scientific management
While scientific management principles improved productivity and had a substantial impact on industry, they also increased the monotony of work. The core job dimensions of skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback all were missing from the picture of scientific management.
While most of his principles have certain logic, most applications of it fail to account for two inherent difficulties:
It ignores individual differences: the most efficient way of working for one person may be inefficient for another;
It ignores the fact that the economic interests of workers and management are rarely identical, so that both the measurement processes and the retraining required by Taylor's methods would frequently be resented and sometimes sabotaged by the workforce.
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