Taylor’s Scientific Management

Scientific management (also referred to as Taylorism, the Taylor system, or the Classical Perspective) is a theory of management which evaluates and synthesizes workflow processes, boosting labour efficiency. The central ideas of the theory were brought to life by Frederick Winslow Taylor. He considered that decisions relying on tradition and guidelines needs to be substituted with exact processes developed following careful research of an individual at the job. In management literature today, the greatest use of the concept of Taylorism is as a contrast to a fresh, superior method of conducting business. In political and sociological terms, Taylorism can be seen as the division of labour pushed to its logical extreme, with a consequent de-skilling of the employee and dehumanisation of the workplace. It was Taylor’s intention to find out what is the most efficient method in completing specific tasks would be through the use and implementation of principles of scientific method.

Taylor discussed his scientific method setting out 4 principles:

  • The ‘gathering in’ of the information from employees regarding how they do each job and developing this into rules, guidelines and likely mathematical formulae.
  • ‘Scientifically selecting’ the right employee(s) for each activity and giving any essential skill development. For instance, if the activity needs a great deal of manual work, an unfit individual will not be the correct option.
  • The joining together of the ‘gathered in’ and the ‘scientifically selected’. To put it differently, ensuring that the best suited person is employed to do each particular activity utilizing the scientific method that has now been identified.
  • Expanding the size of the management staff because of the observing, recording and planning of the work function.

Taylor’s Scientific Management had a deep impact on work organisation in the early years of the 20th century, his ideas being especially implemented by the Ford Motor Company. The most obvious indication of these ideas is available in the form of the assembly line, in which each and every personnel is provided a specified activity to perform repetitively and to highest efficiency the whole day (hence ‘Fordism’). Even today you can find companies which have been identified as functioning on Fordist principles, particularly fast-food restaurants and call centres.