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Critically discuss the notion that Scientific Management was a 'good' idea in the history of management thinking. Free essay! Download now

Home > University > Management studies > Critically discuss the notion that Scientific Management was a 'good' idea in the history of management thinking.

Critically discuss the notion that Scientific Management was a 'good' idea in the history of management thinking.

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Critically discuss the notion that Scientific Management was a 'good' idea in the
history of management thinking.


Scientific management essentially aims to improving the performance of individual workers through the use of analytical procedures so as to improve the workforce efficiency. Frederick Winslow Taylor, father of the scientific management, published his work in 1911, The principle of scientific management. He developed four principles of scientific management: 1) Replace rule-of-thumb work methods with methods based on a scientific study of the tasks. 2) Scientifically select, train, and develop each worker rather than passively leaving them to train themselves. 3) Publish standards which serve as common goals, facilities, and methods. 4) Divide work and responsibilities nearly equally between managers and workers(Freeman, Michael 1996). The management take over all work for which they are better fitted than the workers.

In addition, he proposed following 12 elements of scientific management mechanism: Time study; Standardization of tools; motions; Functional foreman; Management by exception; Time saving devices; A planning department; Written work instructions; Task management and performance bonus; A planning department; Differential pay; Mnemonic systems for products and tools; A products routing system; and Modern cost system( Robinson 1992). Taylor states that it is the combination use of all elements that constitutes the scientific management instead of a single element.

Many American companies made huge efficiency gains by applying Taylor's scientific methods of measurement and management at that time. The application of scientific management is widely spread around the world and has lead a management revolution this century. It is can be seen in Henry Ford's assembly production line, Toyota's just-in-time and the so-called " rc-engineering". The revolution also influenced the modern service industries, like Marriott hotel housekeeping guidelines for bedmaking and hamburger production at McDonald's. Indeed, scientific management has some strengths.

Firstly, scientific management is an essential tool to improve production efficiency(Mohanty 1993). As different people with different talents, we need to analysis, select, train the most appropriate people for each specific task so as to explore their potential and maximize productivity. At the same time, it is essential for us to explore the most efficient way of accomplishing a job.

Take the world's largest fast food Mcdonald's for example, the cashier asks customers' needs of food and enters the information into the computer, workers in charge of the kitchen will prepare hamburger chicken wings, chips and so on according to the requirements of the computer screen, cleaner keep the restaurant clean, the manager is responsible for coordination and to assist people to work faster, and handle customer complaints. Every task has its specific employees to do, so that work efficiency has been improved as well as the productivity.

Secondly, scientific management demonstrates to the quality control. The old "rule of thumb" has been replaced by the scientific approach. Information on how to do a task was spread from worker to their coworkers(Robinson 1992). Technology without scientific examine could not be guaranteed to be the best way of doing a job. Then it is the management responsibility to explore the best method.

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