Scientific Management

Scientific management, also often known as Taylorism, is a management theory first advocated by Federick W. Taylor in the 1900s.

The scientific management model sought to determine scientifically the best methods for performing any task and for selecting, training, and motivating workers, and emphasizes research for developing a comprehensive management principles in a very specific fashion.

The efficiency perspective is concerned with creating jobs that economize on time, human energy, and other productive resources.

JobsOpens in new window are designed so each worker has a specified, well-controlled task that can be performed as instructed. Specific procedures and methods for each job must be followed, with no exceptions.

Taylor was one of the first to analyze human behavior at work systematically. His model was regarded as the machine; moreso as the workforce was seen as interchangeable parts, performing together to achieve a specific function. Taylor attempted to analyze complex organizations, as engineers had done to machines.

As the parts of the machine were easily interchangeable, so too should be human parts within the machine model of an organization. Many of Frederick Taylor’s definitive studies were performed at the Bethlehem Steel CompanyOpens in new window in Pittsburgh.

To improve productivity, Taylor would examine the time and motion details of a job, develop a better method for performing the job, and train the worker. Furthermore, Taylor offered a piece rate (pay) that increased as workers produced more.

Basic Framework of Scientific Management

  • Describe and break down the task to its smallest unit, test for each element of work.
  • Restrict behavioral alternatives facing the worker and remove worker discretion in planning, organizing, controlling.
  • Use time and motion studies to find one best way to do the job.
  • Use experts (industrial engineers) to establish various conditions of work.

Key Results of the Scientific Management Movement

  • New departments emerged — industrial engineering, personnel, quality control
  • Growth in middle management; separation of planning from operations
  • Rational rules and procedures; increase in efficacy
  • Formalized management; mass production
  • Human problems — dehumanization of work, sabotage, group resistance, hatred
  • Attempted to make organizations adjunct to machines
  • Looked at the interaction of human characteristics, social environment, task, physical environment, capacity, speed, durability, and cost
  • Reduced human variability
See Also:
    Research data for this work have been adapted from the manual:
  1. Fundamentals of Management ... By Danny Samson, Richard L Daft, Timothy Donnet.