Taylor’s Theory was developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor, it was mainly associated with Scientific Management. Taylor endeavoured to increase labour and productivity in the workplace through a thorough study of a worker’s role and design a more efficient and productive approach to their jobs, this procedure derived from the observation Taylor made of workers ‘soldiering’, the term applied if a worker deliberately worked at less than maximum potential. Taylor’s studies would involve analysing and breaking down tasks, reorganising and then simplifying them (Van Delinder, 2005).
Taylor’s theory has been utilised in the past and is still in use in contemporary management today. There are advantages and disadvantages of applying Taylorism to management today as both have their merits. This essay will be focusing on both advantages and disadvantages of the application of Taylor’s theory in contemporary management practice. The essay will expand on the impact of Scientific Management in regards to the efficiency, production and psychological benefits and detriments in its application in the modern management scene.
Many workers believe that since Taylorism has been introduced, managers have exploited and used it as a reason downsize firms or to force more work from the employee (Wood et al (2010). This, having a negative impact on the employees morale and in turn affecting the original focus of the theory. As stated by Wood et al, ‘Taylorism’ is a term that angers many due to the techniques being unsuitable when applied by oppressive management (2010).
As the current market becomes more competitive, managers may seek the use of Taylor’s theory, they will in turn analyse and calculate employees tasks and cut down on employees, burdening the remaining with extra duties or even out sourcing employment to cheaper alternatives as seen in recent times with such companies as Nike and Levis. With that being said, Taylor’s theory being applied by management today may be bitterly received by employees and create a negative impact and strain on the domestic economy.
However, despite the disadvantage of Taylorism affecting morale, the general concept of Taylor’s Theory according to Savino, seeks to systematically and comprehensively conserve effort, materials and capital (2009). This promoting the core base of the theory of improving the efficiency and productivity of organisations. We see the concepts of scientific management used effectively in earlier years with Henry Ford’s managing and designing of assembly lines and factories in the auto-mobile industry which saw vast improvements in efficiency and production.
These applications were made after breaking down the workers task, utilising maximum efficiency on the production line and designing workers equipment to perform duties in the most effective manner, Taylor’s theory having quite a large contribution towards the success of Ford’s organisation. This method was also used in treatment of soldiers in World War 1 and was heavily celebrated and internationally recognised as a key part of the success of the USA and Allied forces. Boyle, 2003; Lindsey, 1998). Companies have made large efficiency gains by applying Taylor’s methods of management, and managers still rely on this form of management in relation to mass production today (Wood,Zeffane,Fromholtz,Wiesner,Creed (2010). It is reasonable to conclude that the application of Taylorism in the past and present still provides results, boosts efficiency and utilises labour and capital thus improving the overall productivity of the organisation.
Another advantage of Taylor’s scientific methods are the ideas and improvements derived from the classical theory founded by Taylor by his contributors and colleagues. Such contributors were Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, who used the time and motion studies adopted from Taylor’s theory to improve efficiency, minimise time wastage and design systems to provide employees with incentives. They also protested against fatigue and monotony in the workplace (Wood,Zeffane,Fromholtz,Wiesner,Creed (2010).
Such contributions stemmed from Taylor’s theory are still in practice today, Taylor’s idea of introducing rest periods for his employees and is now an essential part of many organisations today, these rests provided to employee not only alters any continuous, monotonous and repetitive work, but also allows the worker to return to their tasks refreshed and perform at a much higher potential if they had not Incentives provided today given to the employees encourages high productivity in the workplace by offering rewards or exceptional work effort. An early example was Henry L Gantt, who furthered Taylor’s workings and developing the concept of incentive pay and Gantt charts. These tools are now one of the most essential parts of project management today (Darmody (2007). Therefore, such ideas and extensions made by Taylor’s theory and it’s enthusiasts have made a large impact on management strategies today as seen by the introduction of stress management and interim breaks.
A distinct disadvantage associated with Taylorism is the treatment of workers, making them feel “machinelike”, enforcing them with monotonous and repetitive tasks and pressuring them with certain goals or targets to meet. This, giving the employee dissatisfaction in their job and no opportunities to develop new skills. An example of this would be a modern day call centre, employees must continuously answer phones with minimal or no breaks due to the pressure of meeting a certain goal or target set by management.
However, if they surpass their target, they may be able to get bonuses or certain rewards. This originated from Taylor’s piecework pay system where he would pay his workers extra for exceeding their target level, as stated by Bradford, a major drawback of scientific management is that it ignores employees socially and psychologically though Taylor based his work ethic on how employees would always work harder and more efficiently if there was an incentive of more pay since he believed that money meant everything to workers.
However this was proved incorrect by Herzberg who confirmed that social status and sense of achievement were far superior motivators (Bradford Uni, Nd. , para 19). Since Taylorism focuses on an individual’s task and promotes repetitive duties to fill the role efficiently, it prevents the worker from learning and developing new skills, therefore limiting their general skill base. This can best be described through fast food chain McDonalds, where managers specifically assign a certain task to an employee and they must specialise in that area.
This being efficient, however limiting the skill base of employees and enforcing a repetitive task that in turn does not develop or nurture their skills. In conclusion, Taylorism use in the modern age still provides positive results in efficiency and productiveness, however it does not take into account an individuals psychological benefits or detriments with its use. Also, the lack of training and activities outside the horizon of the individuals assigned role creates monotonous and repetitive daily activities contributing to the term “De-skilled”, thus resulting in high job dissatisfaction due to lack of variety.
The use of Taylor’s Theory of Scientific Management in today’s age has both it’s advantages and disadvantages. It is proven that the application of Taylorism does still have a positive effect on the organisations production efficiency and the benefits reaped today from the additional ideas and concepts such as stress management and worker breaks stemming from the early foundation of Scientific Management, these reasons are why it is still largely present in the modern age.
However, these advantages do come with a cost to the employee in terms of lack of diverse training, continuous repetition in their daily activities, job dissatisfaction and decreasing employment. It is the opinion of the author, that if Taylorism is adopted into an organisation today, it would be of best interest not to solely use it as the primary perspective of management.