Scientific Management by Frederick W. Taylor

F.W.Taylor (1856-1915) is called the father of scientific management. He laid emphasis on the necessity of accepting the scientific approach in the management of an organisation. He was primarily concerned with the efficiency of workers and optimum utilisation of machines and other resources in order to bring up a sound enterprise. Taylor, who worked in different capacities in the mining industry, saw the urgent necessity elimination of wastage, which was rampant in industrial organisations.
  • He felt that the only way to avoid wastage and achieve efficiency would be to apply scientific methods in the field of management. Scientific management implies the application of science to management.
  • It emphasizes the conduct of business activities through standardized tools and methods and the use of trained personnel. It helps to increase output, reduce costs and wastages and improve the quality of output.
In the words of Taylor, "Scientific management is the art of knowing exactly what you want your men to do and then seeing that they do it in the best and cheapest way."
According to Drucker, "The concept of scientific management is the organised study of work, analysis of work into its simplest elements and the systematic management of the workers' performance of each element."

Aims of scientific management are:

  1. Higher productivity
  2. Quality control
  3. Elimination of wastage
  4. The right person for the right job
  5. Incentive wages

Principles of scientific management. 

The basic principles of scientific management are as follows:
  • Replacement of rule of thumb with science. Taylor has emphasised that in scientific management organised knowledge should be applied, which will replace the rule of thumb. Scientific investigation should be used for taking managerial decisions instead of basing the decisions on opinions, intuitions estimates and prejudices, likes, dislikes etc
  • Scientific selection, training and development of workmen. It is essential for efficiency in production that workers are selected with due care. Their skill and experience must be matched with the requirements of the respective jobs they are to perform. The employees should be selected on the basis of tests and interviews. The workmen so selected must be given training for the specific tasks to be assigned to them.
  • Co-operation between workers and management. Sound production management requires reciprocal co-operation between employers and employees. Taylor has stressed that no success could be achieved of scientific management without the co-operation of employers and employees. So without ignoring the opinion of the workers and without considering them as 'order-carrying out machine, proper steps should be taken on the part of management to do good for the welfare of the workers. Taylor has felt that this is the most important factor in executing scientific management. He calls it as the bilateral mental revolution. 
  • Division of responsibility between managers and workers. There must be proper division of responsibility between the management and the workers. Planning of work should be the responsibility of managers whereas its execution in a planned manner is the responsibility of workers. Taylor advocated separation of the two kinds of responsibilities so that each individual may be able to perform the tasks to the best of one's ability and be compensated accordingly.
  • Maximum output in place of restricted output. The aim of both management and the workers should be to maximise output. This should be done by both parties in their own self-interest. For management, increased production means more profits and lower cost of production. For workers, the increased output may fetch them attractive wages. In this way, it is the self-interest that compels both management and the workers to achieve maximum output
  • Mental revolution. According to Taylor, "scientific management, in its essence involves a complete mental revolution on the part of both sides of the industry viz. workers and management
"No scheme of scientific management could be a success unless and until both these groups fully co-operate with each other through developing and maintaining best friendly relations. This requires a mental revolution (i.e. a radical change in outlook) on the part of management and workers through giving up an attitude of hostility and enmity towards each other."

Scientific Management Techniques

In order to implement the principles, Taylor and his associates developed the following techniques:

Time study

  • Time study may be defined as the art of observing time required to do a particular job. It relates to fixing the standard time for doing a job under given conditions. It helps to measure the efficiency of each worker by laying down some standards. It creates time consciousness among workers. It helps in reduction of costs.

Motion study

  • In the words of Frank Gilbert, "Motion study is the science of eliminating wastefulness resulting from using unnecessary, ill-directed and inefficient motions. The aim of the motion study is to find and perpetuate the schemes of least waste method of completing a job." It increases the efficiency of workers by reducing fatigue and manual labour. It leads to an increase in production and productivity.

Fatigue study

  • A fatigue study is conducted to find out as to after how much time of work-performance is rest pause required for an average worker; so that he may relax during the rest pause and proceed to job performance in a refreshed manner after the rest, having recouped his lost energies.

Standardisation and simplification

  • Under scientific management, predetermined standards are laid down regarding the task, material, methods, time, quality, cost and working conditions. Standardisation helps to simplify work, to ensure uniformity of operation and to facilitate comparison of efficiency.

The differential piece-rate system of wage payment 

In order to motivate workers to produce the standard output, Taylor devised a scheme of wage payment known as the "differential piece-rate system of wage payment".
The inherent features of this scheme are:
  • Standard output for each worker is determined in advance through scientific work studies.
  • Two rates of wage-payment (based on the piece-rate system) are established:
    • A higher rate per unit of output
    • A lower rate per unit of output
  • Workers, who produce the standard output or exceed the standard, are paid according to the higher rate for all the units produced by them. Those workers, who are unable to come up to the standard rate are paid according to the lower rate for all the units produced by them.

Functional foremanship

  • The scheme of functional foremanship recommended by Taylor is, in fact, an introduction of managerial specialisation at the shop level. In Taylor's view, instead of a single foreman supervising all the tasks, there must be a number of foremen, each concerned with only a particular aspect of the job or shop. Each foreman, being a specialist in the performance of his role, is a functional foreman.
In the scheme of functional foremanship recommended by Taylor, there is a provision for eight foremen of the following types:
  • Route clerk. The route clerk lays down the sequence of operations to be followed for the completion of a particular job.
  • Instruction card clerk. The job of instruction card clerk is to prepare detailed instructions according to which workers have to perform their jobs.
  • Time and cost clerk. The time and cost clerk is a foreman who would record the time taken by a worker in completing a job, and would also compile the cost of doing that job.
  • Shop Disciplinarian. He would look after the maintenance of discipline in the workshop, and deal with the cases of absenteeism, misbehaviour and other aspects of indiscipline.
  • Gang boss. The gang boss is the proper supervisor. He would see to it that all work facilities are made available to workers and they start their work as per the instructions imparted to them. 
functional foremanship scientific management
  • Speed boss. He ensures that machines are run at their proper speed and proper tools are being used.
  • Repair boss. The repair boss is a foreman who would look after and take care of all repairs and maintenance of machines
  • Inspector. The inspector is a foreman, who would look after the quality of production

Comments. The scheme of functional foremanship results in the complete violation of the principle of unity of command as advised by Fayol; because in this scheme, work is subject to the control and superintendence of eight foremen. The scheme, therefore, involves multiple command centres as against a single command.

Critical Evaluation of Scientific Management

Scientific management emphasised faster and better methods of production and also increased output and efficiency. Great advances were made in the scientific management era for more efficient forms of organisation and management. Its emphasis was on achieving efficiency, standardisation, specialisation and simplification. Though at the initial stage many industrialists were attracted towards this system, yet later on they became garrulous with adverse criticism of different types.


Scientific management has been criticised on the following grounds:
  • It is a productivity-oriented approach. As such it ignores the human aspect of work, it ignores human feelings and emotions.
  • It treats man as a rational being. But a man is also an emotional and social being. He is motivated by a variety of factors.
  • This approach is related only to shop or plant level. It does not consider the "total" organisation.
  • The claim that there is only "one best way" of performing a job is misleading
  • It is less applicable in dynamic and complex situations.
  • It also overlooks the human desire for job satisfaction.
Despite all these criticisms, it cannot be denied that many of our modern concepts of management were derived from the productivity approach of Taylor. 

In the words of Peter Drucker, "Scientific management is one of the great liberating and pioneering insights. Without it a real study of human beings at work would be impossible." 

Taylor laid the foundations of modern management as a science. He is, therefore, rightly known as "the father of scientific management".


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