Discuss the extent to which knowledge of the principles of Scientific Management is relevant to understanding how modern enterprises are managed?
Scientific Management is the process of analyzing a task, then breaking that task into manageable parts, solving each problem to create the most efficient and productive work. It involved understanding the physical, psychological, and social aspects of work in order to improve work performance. The extent to which knowledge of the principles of Scientific Management is relevant for understanding how modern enterprises are managed has been debated by academics. The key concepts involved in the application process have been discussed by academics and practitioners alike. Scientific Management is a theory that focuses on improving quality, reliability and economy in production through various steps, like breaking work into its smallest parts, using mechanical devices to aid work, and reducing wasted effort. The theory was first developed by Fredrick Taylor in the early 1900s. Taylor was a mechanical engineer who studied human work and its scientific principles. He researched extensively in this field, and his conclusions led to the creation of Scientific Management principles.
The basic principles of Scientific Management involve gathering scientific evidence about how a task is performed, then using that information to design better ways for doing the task. Tools used in the process of Scientific Management include time studies, motion studies and ergonomic evaluations (Merkle, 2022). Time studies are used to measure the time it takes to perform a task. It involves breaking the task into its simplest component parts, then doing the task slowly, carefully and completely. Motion studies involve observing a worker doing a specific task, and using that information to design equipment and tooling that allows workers to perform their tasks with greater ease (Merkle, 2022). It is important to note that neither of these two tools should ever be used in an effort to study an employee or worker’s performance in order to reduce or eliminate their employment. The last tool involves ergonomic evaluations. This is the study of how a worker interacts with their tools, equipment and tools in order to create an efficient, productive and safe process for doing work (George-Dorel, 2022).
Scientific Management can be applied to almost any task that involves human participation. It is not limited to just manufacturing, or companies, but can also be applied to any type of job that requires the use of one’s hands or the body in some way. This can include jobs that involve high skill and a high education level, but also jobs that require little skill and no education at all (Merkle, 2022). It is also important to note that there are some jobs for which this theory does not apply. There are instances in which workers need to be creative and think outside the box, or solve problems as they arise. This is the kind of work this management theory does not work with, because it is based on creating a sterile environment in which the process can be refined to create only one way of doing any job (George-Dorel, 2022).
The application process of Scientific Management is the key aspect that distinguishes the principles from management theory. It requires a task to be broken into its simplest components, and then addressed with the most efficient and effective means possible (George-Dorel, 2022). This involves all three principles discussed by academics – knowledge, tools, and discipline. First, knowledge is necessary in order to identify which tasks need to be done. Second, tools are used in order to address those tasks using the most efficient and productive means possible. Finally, discipline is necessary in order to keep the process in place so those tasks remain efficient and productive. The application of the three principles to a specific task or situation always leads to a more efficient and productive result, which makes it easier for an individual or organization to compete (Wilkinson et al., 2019).
However, there are some drawbacks that have been discussed by academics as well as practitioners. The first of these is that it does not take into account the varying levels of skill or education workers have acquired, nor does it take into consideration their ability to perform a task (Wilkinson et al., 2019). It can also lead to the production of “work” that is not necessary, or not only meets the minimum standard to pass inspection, but has no value. Another problem is the ability to maintain discipline over a long period of time. Scientific Management relies heavily on motivation and reward, which means if one is not motivated and rewarded, then they will be less inclined to follow through with the process. Another problem is that it can lead to wasting a company’s money if it is used incorrectly. This means that resources are not utilized efficiently or productively (Merkle, 2022).
On the other hand, there are many benefits that companies can see from implementing these principles. One of the first things to note is that it creates a process for doing work, which can help ensure that it is done efficiently, effectively and reliably (Wilkinson et al., 2019). Another benefit is a better understanding of how workers function in their jobs and how they can be made more efficient, productive and reliable. This also helps to reduce mistakes on the job, because workers understand exactly what they need to do in order to perform their task properly (Merkle, 2022). It also helps ensure that the workers are trained and prepared in appropriate situations so that they are prepared for any task. The best way to make sure workers understand the job is to do something similar to show them the job, then let them do it. This can eliminate mistakes and help reduce errors (George-Dorel, 2022).
The main drawback with Scientific Management is that it can be very difficult to apply correctly to every situation. This is because it is based on scientific principles, which means any situation can have a different solution that you may need to design (Merkle, 2022). In addition, this management theory comes into conflict with the other two management theories mentioned earlier – those of Frederick Taylor and John Adair. It becomes even more difficult to apply if it is not used properly or if it is used in improper situations. The application of Scientific Management can also become very rigid and inflexible since most organizations will not take the time to create a training program. This is because it requires a level of training and understanding that is only needed in special situations (Merkle, 2022).
Scientific Management is not widely used in the United States today. There are very few organizations using this theory correctly, and even fewer that have developed programs to train workers on how to perform their tasks using this process (George-Dorel, 2022). It was popularized by two people – Frederick Taylor and Henry Gantt, who lived at the turn of the 20th Century. The ideas have been around for a long time, and many organizations have tried to implement them, but it was only with the development of mass production that this management theory became effective (Merkle, 2022). This is because only then did workers have enough information and training to be able to make corrections of their own volition. Scientific Management can be effective for organizations that are looking for an extremely streamlined process, with no room for error or mistakes (Wilkinson et al., 2019).
Scientific Management has had a significant impact on many aspects of management in the 1900s. It has had a huge impact on organizations and workers in the past century, but it is not widely used today. However, this management theory is still effective for companies that are interested in implementing it, but wish to do so correctly. In addition, others have adopted Scientific Management principles and techniques for similar purposes.
Merkle, J. A. (2022). Management and ideology: The legacy of the international scientific management movement. Univ of California Press. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=WHJkEAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=principles+of+scientific+management+&ots=Xu09uwFkdb&sig=92m4POnbh49TGW6uWeJ_oTPRblc
George-Dorel, P. (2022). Management. Basic Principles And Techniques. Management Strategies Journal, 56(2), 148-154. http://www.strategiimanageriale.ro/papers/220203.pdf
Wilkinson, M. D., Dumontier, M., Jan Aalbersberg, I., Appleton, G., Axton, M., Baak, A., … & Mons, B. (2019). Addendum: The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship. Scientific data, 6(1), 1-2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41597-019-0009-6