The Scientific Management Theory

Scientific Management theory arose in part from the need to increase productivity. In the United States especially labor was in short supply at the beginning of the twentieth century. The only way to expand productivity was to raise the efficiency of workers. Therefore Frederick W Taylor Henry L Gantt and Frank and Lillian Gilberth devised the body of principles known as scientific management theory.

Frederick W Taylor (1856-1915) rested his philosophy on four basic principles:

1. The development of a true science of management so that the best method for performing each task could be determined.
2. The scientific selection of workers so that each worker would be given responsibility for the task for which he or she was best suited.
3. The scientific education and development of the worker.
4. Intimate, friendly cooperation between management and labor.

Taylor contended that the success of these principles required a complete mental revolution on the part of management and labor. Rather than quarrel over profits, both sides should try to increase production; by so doing he believed profits would to such an extent that labor and management would no longer have to fight over them. In short Taylor believed that management and labor had a common interest in increasing productivity.

Taylor based his management system on production-line time studies. Instead of relying on traditional work methods, he analyzed and timed steel workers’ movements on a series of jobs. Using time study as his base, he broke each job down into components and designed the quickest and best methods of performing each component. In this way he established how much workers should be able to do with the equipments and materials at and. He also encouraged employers to pay more productive workers at a higher rate than others using a ‘scientifically correct rate’ that would benefit both company and worker. Thus, workers were urged to surpass their previous performance standards to earn more pay. Taylor called his plan the differential rate system.

Contributors of Scientific Management Theory:

The modern assembly line pours out finished products faster than Taylor could ever have imagined. This production miracle is just one legacy of scientific management. In addition, its efficiency techniques have been applied to many tasks in non-industrial organizations, ranging from fast food service to the training of surgeons.

Limitations of Scientific Management Theory:

Although Taylor’s methods led to dramatic increases in productivity and to higher pay in a number of instances, workers and unions began to oppose his approach because as they feared that working harder or faster would exhaust whatever work was available causing layoffs.

Moreover, Taylor’s system clearly meant that time was of the essence. His critics objected to the speed up conditions that placed undue pressures on employees to perform at faster and faster levels. The emphasis Productivity and by extension profitability led some managers to exploit both workers and customers. As a result, more workers joined unions and thus reinforced a pattern of suspicion mistrust that shaded labor-management relations for decades.

Henry L Gantt (1861-1919) worked with Taylor on several projects. But when he went out on his own as a consulting industrial engineer Gantt began to reconsider Taylor’s incentive system.

Abandoning the differential rate system as having too little motivational impact, Gantt came up with new idea. Every worker who finished a day’s assigned work load would win a 50 cent bonus. Then he added a second motivation. The supervisor would earn a bonus for each worker who reached the daily standard, plus an extra bonus if all the workers reached it. This, Gantt reasoned would spur supervisors to train their workers to do a better job.

Every workers progress was rated publicly and recorder on individuals bar charts in black on days the worker made the standard in red when he or she fell below it. Going this, Gantt originated a charting system for production scheduling; the Gantt chart is still in use today. In fact, the Gantt Chart was translated into eight languages and used throughout the world. Starting in the 1920s, it was in Japan, Spain, and the Soviet Union. It also formed the basis for two charting devices which were developed to assist in planning managing and controlling complex organizations; the Critical Path Method (CPM), originated by Du Pont, and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT), developed by the Navy. Lotus 1-2-3 is also creative applications of the Gantt Chart.

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