Frederick Winslow Taylor is recorded in the history of management as the creator of management science. He was the first to prove that it is possible to implement scientific approaches to operation administration, relying on experiments, analysis, and generalization of the management processes’ aspects. The characteristic features of scientific management are the commitment to the principle of rationality, the use of mainly quantitative methods and mechanisms. As the theory was developed at the beginning of the 20th century, it is essential to analyze whether its techniques can be implemented in the actual scenario at present days.
Concerning the objectives of the scientific management theory, Taylor actively addressed the problem of maximization of efficiency and productivity. This new approach, which appeared in the 1910s, changed both parties of the organizational process, such as workers and managers (Khorasani & Almasifard, 2017). Scientific management has become the first precise way to analyze human behavior at work (Khorasani & Almasifard, 2017). According to Taylor’s opinion and experience, the minimum labor productivity in production units seemed to the workers as a norm, which they did not intend to overfulfill (Robbins et al., 2019). This approach was called soldiering, being natural and systemic (Palla & Billy, 2018). The latter signifies a decrease in workers’ productivity due to their short-sighted assessment of their interests (Palla & Billy, 2018). It also occurs when managers accept this substantially lower optimal worker productivity level as standard (Palla & Billy, 2018). Natural soldiering presents the tendency of workers to relieve the workload. Thus, most of the financial results of the organization are determined by employees’ performance.
Scientific management, often called Taylorism, produced a shift to facilitate labor. In the work “Principles of Scientific Management”, Taylor determined three fundamental scientific management principles (Robbins et al., 2019). First, it is the substitution of the decisions made by the worker performing the function by science-based determinations (Robbins et al., 2019). Second, it involves the logical approach to recruiting and train employees, accompanied by studying their qualities, vocational training instead of systemless selection (Awofeso, 2019). Third, it is essential to maintain close cooperation between managers and workers, allowing them to perform their work in accordance with established scientific laws (Awofeso, 2019). Thus, it helps to avoid an arbitrary decision of each problem by an individual worker.
The theory of scientific management has a positive impact on business processes. Palla and Billy (2018) note that in specific industries, Taylorism benefits economic performance. These involve various industrial sectors, from fast-food restaurants to factories (Palla & Billy, 2018). The reason is that scientific management helps rationalize work and diminish human errors (Palla & Billy, 2018). The most prominent example of the theory adaptation is McDonald’s restaurants (Bell & Martin, 2012). It helps when workers assemble hamburgers, and technical support answers a call under pressure from a 90/10 protocol (Bell & Martin, 2012). According to Palla and Billy (2018), Taylorism is relevant as machine-like precision is required to improve profitability. Thus, it can be acknowledged that scientific management principles are beneficial in the long-term as business management’s fundamental skill is still creating conditions when production is scalable, efficient, and cheap.
These days, the principles of scientific management described by Taylor remain relevant to educational institutions. Taska (2017) claims that Taylor’s reform agenda relates not only to production but also people’s thinking, communication and learning processes. In particular, it has affected the field of education (Taska, 2017). For instance, such an approach resulted in adjusting education colleges’ mission; the latter aims at scientifically preparing educational leaders, pursuing organizational goals and functions (Taska, 2017). From the perspective of scientific management, these objectives depend on control and efficiency (Taska, 2017). The theory practices were adopted in “devising standardized methods of pupil accounting and introducing sound business administration practices in budgeting, planning, maintenance, and finance” (Taska, 2017, p. 35). Hence, it has increased the effectiveness of educational institutions in terms of management processes.
However, there are several significant limitations to implementing scientific management theory in the school context. According to Khorasani and Almasifard (2017), managers should analyze people’s various competencies and tasks. Kim (2018) argues that the standardization in high-stakes testing is debatable in terms of social efficiency. The current American education reform intends to shift focus from inputs to outputs (Kim, 2018). According to Kim (2018), it is crucial to analyze the outcome of assessment and results. For instance, even though standardized tests rely on “economic efficiency to quantify the outcomes resulting from educational input”, test scores can be considered inappropriate and inhuman in education (Kim, 2018, p. 86). Therefore, assessment in educational institutions needs to be provided for better understanding the children, contributing to their development.
With regard to the 20th century, the application of the Taylor method in various companies has yielded significant economic results. Nevertheless, at the same time, this led to a substantial reduction in the number of jobs and layoffs of workers, which caused particular concerns among workers and trade unions (Palla & Billy, 2018). As a result, Taylor was criticized for seeing workers like robots striving to increase production level, completely neglecting the human factor (Palla & Billy, 2018). The doubts arose that the full implementation of scientific management would inevitably lead to a devaluation of existing skills and crafts.
The concerns were that the new approach would convey the gradual decrease in the need for skilled labor; consequently, any person could replace a supervisor. According to Palla and Billy (2018), scientific management methods were advantageous in the past, while these days, they are less critical. As the techniques described by Taylor are performed by automated machines, the productivity within the meaning of scientific management is not necessary. Consequently, it can be mainly considered out-of-date in the 21st century.
To sum up, Taylor achieved the creation of ideal working methods that would be based on improving the best elements of the labor process of various workers. A feature of the scientific management approach was the desire to find the correct method of work. The driving mechanism of his labor geometry, based on the creation of perfect straight movements of workers, negating any bends and deviations, eliminating all wrong, slow and unnecessary activities, was the principle of the economy of energy. The theory of scientific management had a significant influence on the development of management science around the world. In some spheres of society, the principles and techniques require revision and possible rejection of them. However, at present, they remain widely used in industry and provide positive economic performance.
Awofeso, O. (2019). Managing formal organizations in the 21st century: A critique of Fredrick Taylor’s scientific management theory. Journal of Public Management Research 5(2), 1-11. Web.
Bell, R., & Martin, J. (2012). The relevance of scientific management and equity theory in everyday managerial communication situations. Journal of Management Policy and Practice, 13(3), 106-115. Web.
Khorasani, S. T., & Almasifard, M. (2017). Evolution of management theory within 20 century: A systemic overview of paradigm shifts in management. International Review of Management and Marketing, 7(3), 134-137. Web.
Kim, J. (2018). School accountability and standard-based education reform: The recall of social efficiency movement and scientific management. International Journal of Educational Development, 60, 80–87. Web.
Palla, A. K., & Billy, I. (2018). Scientific management: Its inapplicability to contemporary management challenges. The Business & Management Review, 9(3), 459-463. Web.
Robbins, S., Coulter, M., DeCenzo, D., Woods, M. (2019). Revel Management: The Essentials (4th ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Pearson.
Taska, L. (2017). Scientific Management. In A. Wilkinson, S. J. Armstrong & M. Lounsbury (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Management (pp. 19-38). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.