The topic I have chosen for my essay assignment would be option 1 which is reviewing the arguments for and against the statement whether scientific management creates efficient organizations. In the world of today, it has been known that scientific management developed over the years and is applied in the everyday work life. Frederick Winslow Taylor is the person who discovered scientific management, also known as ‘Taylorism’.
It is a theory about management that analyses and synthesize the workflow of a work place but the main objective is to improve the efficiency of the economy, especially in labour productivity based on five principles as described by Buchanan(2010, pg 423). The first principle of Taylorism is to have ‘A clear division of tasks and responsibilities between management and workers’ whereby the author Chris Grey(2010, pg 40) disagreed that it was an added advantage to an organization. He described it as a system that transfers the power from workers to managers.
It reduces autonomy among workers, working conditions and threatened unemployment. It is more of a radical and near complete separation between planning and decision-making, where managers would make the decision while workers carry out the order. The outcome of this caused workers to leave their jobs and go on strike, time and motion studies were banned in US defence plants and even owners and senior managers were against Taylorism as they think that the system has given the managers a higher authority than them.
The second principle, ‘The use of scientific methods to determine the best way of doing a job’ was brought up to a disagreement by Paul Adler where he claims that Taylorism represents a fundamental emancipatory philosophy of a job design. His research reveals two fundamental flaws in the standard view that is based on two psychological assumptions. The first one is that work will only be motivating to the extent that it resembles free play and the second that workers need to have autonomy. Adler states that the standard critique of Taylorism is that it presents the payoff of the workers as the only source of motivation to get them going.
Adler also argued that when workers develop positive feelings towards their job and perceive Taylorism as an effective way of accomplishing the task, then low individual and team autonomy can co-exist with high morale. (Buchanan,2010,pg 444 – 445). Buchanan (2010, pg 428) also commented that there are several criticisms that disagree with Taylorism bringing efficiency to an organization based on this principle. The first one was because it assumes that the motivation of an employee was to gain maximum payoff for their hard work and neglected the importance of the other rewards such as being given recognition and achievement.
This will cause workers to feel that they are not appreciated and are being used as tools to do the job. Secondly, it failed to explain to the workers the use of implementing new procedures, being timed and closely supervised all the time. Workers will not enjoy being watched all the time, as it would make them feel like a prisoner. It also makes them feel uncomfortable as to not having any privacy at work. However, the Gilbreths came up with their own study through developing Taylorism showing their agreement with Taylor’s second principle. Frank Gilbreth tudied motion and time of job to analyse how long it would take for a person to complete the given task which then lead to the development of a system called ‘therbligs’ which is formed from elementary movements, each having its own symbol and colour. His research then lead him to developing a standard time for each job element, and this is still being used till today for designing the wage payment systems. As for Lilian Gilbreth, she contributed psychologically. She studied motions to eliminate unnecessary actions and to reduce fatigue experienced by workers.
She figured that if she could succeed it would increase the work rate of a worker to maximize productivity. She introduced rest periods, placing chairs at the workplace resting area, and instituted holidays with pay. Changes were also made to the heating, lighting and ventilation of the workplace. This may have been a new revolution for the workers as it improved their work life and gave them motivation to do their jobs. (Buchanan, 2010,pg 429 – 430). The third principle is ‘Scientific selection of the person to do the newly designed job’.
Henry Ford did a great job in doing so as he became famous for his way of mass-production that benefited his organization. Ford applied the principles of rationalization whereby employees are allocated simple tasks that are carefully designed to gain maximum efficiency from the workers. Ford replaced skilled craftsmen with machines therefore eliminating the need for skilled workers. He boosted up production of the cars that could hardly be done with just manpower but critics argued that Ford’s technique was destroying craftsmanship and de-skilling jobs.
In the workers’ view, this was more of an issue about identifying the right task for unskilled workers to do who would otherwise not enjoy their work and be demoralized which could lead to many problems later on if not solved. The same critics also asserted that short cycle repetitive jobs are the cause of workers being treated like a machine, alienated and stressful. (Buchanan, 2010,pg 431 – 435) A research on the Braverman thesis shows many criticisms were made about Braverman and his deskilling thesis that disagrees with this principle as well. Buchanan cited from (Noon and Blyton, 2007 (pp. 57-159); Fincham and Rhodes, 2005) which shows a couple of criticism such as Taylorism ignoring alternative management strategies like making a choice between using Taylorism to deskill a job position or to let the workers gain autonomy. Employee empowerment would definitely provide better worker interchangeability that allows better assembly line balancing. At the same time, employees will not be deskilled and the management gets to take control over the labour process. Another criticism was that it exaggerated about the management’s objective of controlling labour.
The thesis underestimated the complexity and diversity about management objectivity and plurality of interests. Direct labour will take up a small proportion of the total cost of a product and it may not be significant as it was in the past compared to today. The third criticism was that workers were being treated passively. There have been unions and individual resistance towards deskilling, as workers were not being treated fairly as they were forced to do a specific job that does not require their skill they have to be put to good use.
In the end, the worker’s skill will deteriorate until he loses it completely. The next one was the underestimation of the employees’ consent and accommodation whereby workers will welcome Taylorism once they understand the importance of it and practice it for years. Fifth, it ignores gender. In the past, men have always been the one who have been developing working skills and were more capable of doing work. That brought a disadvantage to the women as they were being compared to men. They overlooked the possibilities that women may also be able to do other jobs such as office jobs. Buchanan,2010, pg 440 – 441) The fourth principle is ‘The training of the selected worker to perform the job in the way specified’ and from this principle came about the upskilling position which gave importance towards human capital. Companies invested in their workforce by providing education and training to help them have a better understanding of their work and how to do it right. This will help managers to identify which worker is capable of doing which job they will be assigned to. Besides that, it will generate higher level of skills among employees that most work required during those times.
The fifth principle is the ‘Surveillance of workers through the use of hierarchies of authority and close supervision’. Harry Braverman developed the Braverman where he saw scientific management as a method of directly controlling fellow employees. Managers reduced the autonomy and discretion of workers in how they perform their jobs, thereby deskilling their work in order to gain more control over them. Braveman concluded two types of deskilling technique and they are, firstly, organizational deskilling which involves Taylor’s separation of task conception from task execution that all problems are to be solved by the supervisor.
The second one is technological deskilling that is replacing the workers with machines to achieve a better rate of production. (Buchanan, 2010,pg 436 – 437) Max Weber also agreed to this principle stating that rational-legal authority was increasingly supplanting forms of authority which comes from a set of rules, procedures and duties. This authority is empowered to the person in charge, for example, the Chief Executive Officer of an organization. Eventhough the person holding the position may change, the empowerment the job position holds still maintains the same.
There always have to be someone who oversees the entire organization and manage it. Just like a country, without the government the country will not be in order but instead be in chaos. Weber defines this type of organization being set by rules and a series of hierarchical relationship. It helps make use of principles of systemization, division of labour and authority. Weber stated that his theory represented the most technical and rational form of an organization and it was confirmed when his theory spread like wildfire throughout the state as organizations were implementing his theory. Grey,2009, pg 22-23) From what I have studied about scientific management and its theories about how it has been applied throughout the years I would agree that scientific management does creates an efficient organization. It has dramatically improved our work life today if compared to the old days where workers were mistreated, low rate of production and many more. Scientific management have been developing over the years and along side it there were ups and downs but I have to say that in the world today, it has definitely brought significant changes to organizations.
As I have worked before at several hotels, I have experienced these changes such as following procedures and rules while working which is fine by me as it tells me what I should do and be more systematic. While I was working in the F&B department, everyday there will be tasks assigned to each staff so that everyone knows what they are supposed to do and to prevent miscommunication between one another. I felt very comfortable and I did my job well following it with little problems. Another example would be with the help of technology everything goes faster and smoother through my experience in the front office department.
In the front office department, guest records used to be manually written down in a book and it would be a hassle to find out if the guest stayed there before but now we have computers where we can just enter a guest’s information within a minute and check it at anytime and any second. Everything will be recorded in the computer therefore making it available to other departments so that they could get information on a certain guest. In conclusion, surely there are advantages and disadvantages in scientific management but that is what that makes it improve and develop over the years.
There may be people who disagree with me but I stand firm on my decision that scientific management does create an efficient organization and I also look forward to see what new changes it will bring in the near future. Referances Buchanan, D. and Huczynski, A. (2010),Organizational Behaviour, Harlow, Financial Times/ Prentice Hall (7th edition), Grey, C. (2009) A very short and fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about studying organizations, (2nd edition), London, Sage Publications Ltd Noon M. and Blyton P. (2007), The Realities of Work, (3rd edition), Gordonsville,Palgrave Macmillan