Is the ‘Scientific Management’ Approach to Organizing Still Valued in the Modern World? Are There Any Realistic Alternatives? Essay
Is the ‘scientific management’ approach to organizing still valued in the modern world? Are there any realistic alternatives? Scientific Management is a theory of management that analyzed and synthesized workflows. Its main objective was improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity. Frederick Winslow Taylor was a one of the most important classical theorist, who developed and applied this approach; he is often called “The Father of Scientific Management. His prescription for this principle that all work processes could be analyzed into discrete task and that by scientific method it was possible to find ”one best way” of doing each task to perform each of them.
Each job was broken down into component parts, each part timed and the parts rearranged into the most efficient method or working. Then through the scientific management approach workers, as the pioneers of this approach believe, would be motivated by obtaining the highest possible wages through working in the most efficient and productive way.
Work would become, therefore, more satisfying and profitable for all concerned.
Furthermore, Scientific Management provides some useful techniques and offered valuable organizational suggestions. Taylor began his studies into this filed and his idea were later furthered by individuals such as Frank Gilbreth, his area of expertise was in the construction area and he conducted his experiments on bricklayers, Gilbreth decided to look at how the study of motion could simplify jobs and break them down.
Another individual, alongside Gilbreth, who furthered Taylor’s initial ideas, was Henry Gantt. He took the negative aspects of Taylor’s ideas and decided to ‘humanize’ scientific management taking into consideration the physiological needs of an employee. Another individual that adopted and furthered the major principles of scientific management was Henry Ford. His method of management all products were mass produced as the moving assembly line meant that workers were working according to the speed of the assembly line.
This was different from Taylor’s idea as Taylor invested in the differentiated piece rate system to motivate workers however Ford invested in technology. The topics of scientific management approach appear still to have relevance today. We can see examples of scientific management alive and well. One of the biggest users of scientific Management in the 21st century is McDonalds. This is an American fast food restaurant that has spread its business successfully worldwide. One of the main aspects of scientific management that McDonalds ave implemented into their business is the Fordist management style where everyone works according to an assembly line. In the days of Ford implemented his style in a car manufacturing firm and McDonalds has distinctly adapted this idea into his corporate culture. For example the company has designed all of its food chain braches in such a style that employees don’t have to take more than two steps to complete their task. When studied closely there is also an evidence to suggest that Taylor’s ideas have also been implemented in this example.
Taylor’s main objective was to create the best man for the job and hence the division of labour and ultimately this brought about specialization amongst employees. The method in which McDonalds for example create their hamburger is a form of deskilling and division of labour. For example they have simplified the job by firstly grilling the burger, putting in lettuce and tomatoes, adding sauce etc, putting onto rolls and then wrapping it up. As you can see that this is a breakdown of the job and by having individuals do each task it not only improves efficiency but also creates specialized personnel.
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 shows that in the 21st century McDonalds has successfully adapted scientific management into its company and it can safely be said that without this management style they wouldn’t probably be in such a dominant and efficient position in the market. Another example of scientific management being implemented is in supermarkets.
This is a more extreme form of deskilling as supermarkets have different employees to stack shelves, scan products, handle queries and hence this is all adapting some aspects of Taylor in terms of division of labour. Hotels, for example, often make use of standard manuals and it is common for housekeeping staff to have a prescribed layout for each room, with training based on detailed procedures and the one best way. Staff may be expected to clean and a given number of rooms per shift with financial incentives for additional rooms.
However despite the above examples clearly showing that scientific management is influential in 21st century, the limitations of the scientific approach have to be addressed and how these are preventing businesses from applying this approach. Though, the scientific management approach only conceders the efficiency side of work processes. Organizations have to be effective to reach the aimed goals. Also despite the fact that it allows employees to specialize in a certain task and hence in the long term it makes their job easier, it doesn’t provide any job satisfaction.
Many realistic alternatives that embrace the efficiency and the effectiveness of the organization processes and actions exist, in fact, the human relation approach, nowadays, we can hear easily statements such as ‘’people are the life-blood of an organization’’ and so on, the human relation approach places emphasis on the human element of the term and aims to increase efficiency through employee commitment and therefore rises the effectiveness of the organization. This was in going against the Taylorism ideas that social factors do not benefit workers.
However the Human Relations approach found that group work was a successful idea as it added some social aspects to work and hence motivated staff. . Hence this study is still being used in place of scientific management in the modern day and age with one of the main users are food manufacturers which are using groups to produce work and each product can be traced back to that one group and hence all individuals are bearing a responsibility for quality and this increases motivation.