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Discuss The Extent To Which The Principles of Scientific Management (F W Taylor, 1911) Are Still Relevant To Modern Organisations.

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Introduction

Discuss The Extent To Which The Principles of Scientific Management (F W Taylor, 1911) Are Still Relevant To Modern Organisations. It is easy to look at the five principles of scientific management and ask how, conceived 90 odd years ago, they can still be relevant to a 21st century company. They appear outdated, and research since their inception has gone some way to prove that not all of Taylor's ideas were right, particularly regarding motivation. This essay will go some way to support that view by examining two of the main criticisms of Taylor. However, the main thrust of this essay will revolve around the premise that the main ideas of Taylorism are more relevant now to companies than ever before, and that, perhaps in a different guise and slightly modified, it could be one of the most important work design theories of the future. Taylor was born in 1856 to a wealthy family in Philadelphia. He went to work for Midvale Steel in 1878, and had reached the role of superintendent by 1887. It was in this role that Taylor noticed that workers used different, inefficient working techniques, and that they did not work at the speed of which he considered them capable of. Huczynski & Buchanan (2001) tells us that Taylor decided to introduce a new way of working that would have three main goals. ...read more.

Middle

Taylor believes all mental and manual labour should be separated, such that no 'thinking' takes place on the shop floor. This, Wood stresses, is the deskilling to which Braverman refers. Work is progressively degraded until all elements of knowledge, judgement and responsibility have been stripped away, as Taylor stressed in his principles of scientific management. Braverman believed that Taylorism was now an institutionalized part of the workplace, and that it formed the basis of control in many companies. Although Braverman has a wide range of criticisms (to many to go into here in respect of the word limit), there is still strong support for what he had to say, as suggested by Armstrong (1998). He implied that Braverman's thesis should be looked at as something that proposes a general tendency for deskilling, rather than a universal law. Taylorism is a central part of this theory, which implies that the Taylorism ideas of control and separation are alive and kicking today. In 1993, George Ritzer published his book, The McDonaldization of Society. This book carried a similar vein to Braverman's, but is more topical. Ritzer (1993) notes that a manual was given to each new 'crew' member at a McDonalds, which tells them exactly how to pull milk shakes, grill hamburgers and fry potatoes. It specified precise cooking times for all products and temperature settings for all equipment. ...read more.

Conclusion

This coupled with research done by psychologists regarding motivation would appear to make Taylorism irrelevant. Taylor believed people were motivated to work simply for money. That has, of course, been proved wrong as shown above. Despite this, I think scientific management is still very relevant for businesses, but not in the original sense of which it was constructed by Taylor. The evidence of Braverman and Ritzer, with their deskilling and McDonaldization theories shows that scientific management is still important today. Ritzer argues that its impact, negative though it may be, is spreading into a wide range if areas. However, I think it's the evidence linking Japanization with Taylorism that proves it is relevant now more than ever. The three objectives of Taylorism, efficiency, predictability, and, most importantly, control could be used to describe exactly the objectives of Japanization. Idea's such as kaizen and TQM involve complex means of worker control with the aim of greater efficiency; Lean production is about also about efficiency. In the Japanese model, which is being adopted all over the world, we see that efficiency comes from control, similar to Fordism. It is the wielding of the control over the workforce that will help a company employing Japanese methods of production succeeds nothing else. Japanization contains all the main points of Taylorism. It is just a more sophisticated way of achieving the same goals and objectives of scientific management. This means Taylorism is still as relevant now as it was 90 years ago. ...read more.

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