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Scientific Management Theory – Evolution of Management Thought

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Scientific Management TheoryScientific Management Theory
Principles of Management (POM) | BSc.CSIT
Four Principles of Scientific Management Theory
Third Semester | | Unit two
Tribhuvan University (TU)

Scientific Management Theory
The evolution of modern management began in the closing decades of the nineteenth century, after the industrial revolution had swept through Europe, Canada,and the United States. Many major economic, technical, and cultural changes were taking place at this time. The introduction of steam power and the development of sophisticated machinery and equipment changed the way in which goods were produced.

Frederick W. Taylor (1856–1915) is best known for defining the techniques of scientific management, the systematic study of relationships between people and tasks for the purpose of redesigning the work process to increase efficiency. He was known as father of Scientific Management. Taylor believed that if the amount of time and effort that each worker expended to produce a unit of output (a finished good or service) could be reduced by increasing specialization and the division of labour, then the production process would become more efficient. Taylor believed that the way to create the most efficient division of labour could best be determined by means of scientific management techniques, rather than intuitive or informal rule-of-thumb knowledge. Based on his experiments and observations as a manufacturing manager in a variety of settings, he developed four principles to increase efficiency in the workplace:

  • Principle 1: Study the way workers perform their tasks, gather all the informal job knowledge that workers possess, and experiment with ways of improving the way tasks are performed:
    To discover the most efficient method of performing specific tasks, Taylor studied in great detail and measured the ways different workers went about performing their tasks. One of the main tools he used was a time-and-motion study, which involves the careful timing and recording of the actions taken to perform a particular task. Once Taylor understood the existing method of performing a task, he tried different methods of dividing and coordinating the various tasks necessary to produce a finished product. Usually this meant simplifying jobs and having each worker perform fewer, more routine tasks, as at the pin factory or on Ford’s car assembly line. Taylor also sought ways to improve each worker’s ability to perform a particular task. For example, by reducing the number of motions workers made to complete the task, by changing the layout of the work area or the type of tool workers used, or by experimenting with tools of different sizes.
  • Principle 2: Codify the new methods of performing tasks into written rules and standard operating procedures:
    Once the best method of performing a particular task was determined, Taylor specified that it should be recorded so that the procedures could be taught to all workers performing the same task. These rules could be used to standardize and simplify jobs further—essentially, to make jobs even more routine. In this way, efficiency could be increased throughout an organization.
  • Principle 3: Carefully select workers so that they possess skills and abilities that match the needs of the task, and train them to perform the task according to the established rules and procedures:
    To increase specialization, Taylor believed workers had to understand the tasks that were required and be thoroughly trained in order to perform the tasks at the required level. Workers who could not be trained to this level were to be transferred to a job where they were able to reach the minimum required level of proficiency.
  • Principle 4: Establish a fair or acceptable level of performance for a task, and then develop a pay system that provides a reward for performance above the acceptable level:
    To encourage workers to perform at a high level of efficiency, and to provide them with an incentive to reveal the most efficient techniques for performing a task, Taylor advocated that workers should benefit from any gains in performance. They should be paid a bonus and receive some percentage of the performance gains achieved through the more efficient work process.

The search for efficiency started with the study of how managers could improve person–task relationships to increase efficiency. The concept of job specialization and division of labour remains the basis for the design of work settings in modern organizations. New developments like lean production and total quality management are often viewed as advances on the early scientific management principles developed by Taylor and the Gilbreths.

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