RELEVANCE OF SCIENTIC MANAGEMENT TODAY

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RELEVANCEOF SCIENTIC MANAGEMENT TODAY

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Executivesummary

Thisreport examines whether or not the concept of scientific managementis still relevant in the contemporary world. The position taken inthe report is that scientific management principles are still used inmost companies today, even though they may not be in their pure form.The report focuses on the fundamental principles of the concept,which are then evaluated with regards to their applicability inmodern-day organizations. This task is executed by use of varioustheories and concepts that are commonly used in contemporaryorganizations. The report also makes use of case studies with the aimof outlining how organizations utilize scientific management today.Information is drawn from secondary sources such as books, websources, and journal articles. True to the thesis that scientificmanagement remains relevant, a central finding of the report is thatbig firms like Toyota and McDonald’s heavily draw upon scientificmanagement principles. In addition, it is established that commonlyused concepts and theories today, such as situational leadership, jobdesign, and scientific management substantially informs personnelmanagement.

Contents

Executive summary 2

Introduction 4

Scientific management 4

Assessing the relevance of scientific management today 6

Conclusion 11

List of References 12

Relevanceof Scientific Management Today

Theimportance of management in organizations is universally understood,and in order to assist managers to avoid committing mistakes made byother people before them, it is importance to trace the path throughwhich the management concept has evolved (Griffin, 2013 p. 11).Scholars trace the management practice as having begun with theconstruction of pyramids by Egyptians (Bosman, 2009 para 2). Othersquote famous philosophers like Plato and Socrates as having been keyfigures in the discovery of management practice (Griffin, 2013 p. 11Shafritz, Russell &amp Borick, 2015 p. 238). However, the idea thatusually comes into most people’s minds whenever the term managementis mentioned is Frederick Taylor’s scientific management theory,which has been termed as one among the most important classicaltheories (Farazmand, 2002 p. 26). Even though the concept ofscientific management was introduced in the 19thcentury, it still holds some relevance today. This report utilizes anumber of theories together with case studies to substantiate theargument that scientific management is still relevant in 21st-centuryorganizations. The report begins with an overview of the principlesunderpinning scientific management, before delving into a criticalanalysis of the application of the concept in contemporaryorganizations.

Scientificmanagement

Theman behind the concept of scientific management, Frederick Taylor,worked in several companies, and one of the important observations hemade was the tendency of employees to work at a pace that was slowerthan their ability. Referring to this phenomenon as soldiering,Taylor developed an interest in identifying techniques that wouldboost worker efficiency. One such technique was the introduction ofthe piecework model of payment, in which workers would be paidaccording to their output (Griffin, 2013 p. 12).

Accordingto Taylor, scientific management is crucial to companies that areintent on maximizing output together with profits. The specificobjectives of the practice include improving productivity, minimizingcosts, and improving output quality. The practice is founded on fourmain principles, one of them being the use of investigative andanalytic techniques to determine the best way of performing a task atthe least possible cost. Secondly, the concept holds that properworker selection and training is key to attaining efficiency(Maheshwari, 1997 pp. 63-64).

Concerningthe issues of employees` training together with selection, Taylorstressed the need to ensure that both activities are conducted usingscientific methods. According to this great theorist, scientificselection tools such as interviews and tests are more effective thantraditional methods because they assess workers’ ability as well asaptitude. Similarly, Taylor argued that scientific training isessential to enhanced efficiency and productivity because it matchesworkers` experience together with the skills to specific jobrequirements (Maheshwari, 1997 p. 64).

Thethird principle of scientific management is the mental revolution,which simply refers to cooperation between employees and theirsuperiors. Taylor strongly believed that production could only bedone in an efficient manner if harmony prevails between employees andmanagement. To achieve this, managers must treat their employees aspartners, whereas employees should try their best to cultivateloyalty towards their employer (Maheshwari, 1997 p. 64).

Lastly,scientific management advocates for equal distribution of worktogether with responsibility (Oriard, 1998 p. 45), and that theseshould be shared equally between managers and workers. To be moreprecise, the concept postulates that management should be in chargeof planning along with supervision, while employees should be giventhe responsibility of executing work according to managers’instructions. More importantly, workers` responsibilities should bedefined clearly so that employees can give their best performance(Maheshwari, 1997 p. 65).

Assessingthe relevance of scientific management today

Differentviewpoints have emerged regarding the question of whether or notscientific management is still applicable in today’s organizations.Supporters of the claim that the concept is still valid citepractices such as job specialization, which is rooted in scientificmanagement but it is still practiced today. As Griffin (2013, p. 13)observes, most industrial jobs that are offered today are based onjob specialization models conceived by classical managementtheorists, to which Taylor belongs. The theory of scientificmanagement advances the idea that organizations should selectemployees and assign them tasks that match their abilities togetherwith ambitions (Booth, 2015 p. 11 Grobler, 2006 p. 3 Gupta, 2007 p.67). Without a doubt, this is the idea that governs personnelmanagement today. Essentially, processes related to personnelmanagement normally begin by job analysis together with jobevaluation, the aim being to ensure that people are assignedpositions according to their skills and other abilities (Sison etal., 2003 p. 2).

Besidespaying keen attention to the human resource function of job design,today’s managers are keenly interested in employee training alongwith development (Ahmad &amp Bakar, 2003 p. 167). Virtually allorganizations today devote a significant portion of their resourcestowards employee training (Sison et al., 2003 p. 2 Lee &ampBruvold, 2003 p. 981 Aquinas, 2010 p. 376). Clearly, these practicesare entrenched in Taylor`s principle of scientific training ofworkers in order to enhance their efficiency. In other words,scientific management, in its unadulterated form, may not be visiblewithin contemporary organizations. Nonetheless, the fact remains thatits central elements are profoundly embedded in every society today.

Itis pointless to argue that scientific management is a classicalperspective whose precepts no longer work in today’s world. Asoutlined earlier, scientific management advocates for cooperationbetween employees and managers, as this is believed to be afundamental ingredient for operational efficiency in the workplace.In most organizations today, the mandate of ensuring that goodrelations are maintained between workers and their superiors usuallylies with labor unions (Sison et al., 2003 p. 2 American Water WorksAssociation, 2005 p. 90). However, in companies that are notunionized, personnel managers have a responsibility of ensuring thatharmony prevails within the organization. Precisely, one of thefunctions of personnel managers is to resolve labor-managementdisputes (Sison et al., 2003 p. 2). On a different note, contemporaryorganizations reportedly hire employee relations experts just so thatgood relations may be maintained within the organization (Farnham &ampInstitute of Personnel and Development, 2000 p. 29). This isadditional proof that modern organizations heavily rely on theprinciples of scientific management.

Manyorganizations rely on the principles of scientific management intheir operations, the most widely quoted being McDonald`s. A centraltenet of scientific management is that managers should employscientific techniques to predict the time and manner in which a giventask is to be performed (Internet Center for Management and BusinessAdministration, 2010 para 9). This tenet derives from the concept ofdivision of labor. In as much as this tenet appears impracticable, itis interesting learning that it has been embraced at McDonald`s, andis actually one of the reasons for the company`s success. Accordingto Robbins et al. (2014, p. 47), all McDonald’s outlets worldwidefollow a uniform recipe regarding food preparation and servingtechniques. Williams (2007, p. 146) adds that the company owns anoperations manual that is popularly referred to as the company`sBible, which demonstrates how hamburgers ought to be served.Similarly, the company has installed special buzzers together withlights that tell workers when it is time to remove French fries fromfat. There are other specially designed equipment like ketchupdispensers and French fry scoops that specify the right portion ofingredients to use.

Thespecially designed fry scoops and ketchup dispensers can be seen asan outcome of utilizing the time-and-motion studies proposed byTaylor under the scientific management theory. Explaining how the fryscoops work, Robbins et al. (2014, p. 47) disclose that theefficiency with which crew can make many fries depends on how fastthey move along, demonstrating the capability to perform multipletasks simultaneously. The authors report that the fry scoop used atMcDonald`s is designed such that every fry bag is filled with thesame quantity of fries, and that this takes place at a fast rate.When a worker inserts the scoop`s handle into a fry bag, he makes asingle continuous movement that scoops the required quantity offries. The interesting bit about this process is that when the workerlifts up the scoop, the fries automatically go inside the bag, andthis automatically disengages the bag from the scoop. Without adoubt, this is a time-saving idea that illustrates Taylor`s conceptof efficiency.

Inaddition to utilizing time and motion studies in its productionprocesses, McDonald’s has also embraced scientific managementprinciples in its employee selection and development practices.According to Robbins et al. (2014, p. 47), the company has managed tomaintain high service standards by ensuring that its workers areselected carefully and subjected to a process of thorough training.In fact, the company’s training program has been described asunique in the entire hospitality industry. This is because thecompany has designed its training program in such a way that ensuresthat all workers have the right skills needed in food preparationtogether with service. At the same time, the company’s trainingprogram is tailored to equip staff members with vital skills likeleadership, time management, communication, and relationshipbuilding. Owing to all these, McDonald’s has emerged as oneorganization that functions uniformly in all the countries in whichit has established its presence. Accordingly, the company has beenable to realize efficiency in the supply of standard food throughoutthe universe, hence becoming the largest restaurant chain in theworld (Ghuman &amp Aswathappa, 2010 p. 135).

Anothercompany that uses scientific management principles is Toyota, whichis famed for its lean production model. Describing the origin of thismodel, Dennis (2007, p. 8) discloses that the model was adopted at atime when the company was facing daunting challenges in the market.In a bid to resolve these challenges, several changes were made, animportant one being a review of employment structures at the company.Consequently, employees were guaranteed lifetime employment in returnfor executing their work efficiently and effectively. On top of this,the company reviewed its pay system workers were now paid accordingto their seniority, and bonuses were granted when the firm madesubstantial profits. A crucial implication of the above arrangementwas that workers were now viewed as fixed costs that had to deliverreturns to their employer in exchange for a range of benefits. Evenwith remarkable improvements that have been made over the years, theToyota Company remains to be one of the organizations whoseemployment contracts are based on, among other factors, cooperation.This is a clear indicator that Toyota is still grounded uponscientific management principles.

Oneof the criticisms leveled against scientific management is that itproduces dehumanizing as well as dis-empowering impacts onindividuals (Spender &amp Kijne, 1996 p. 5). This argument appearsvalid especially when it is considered that scientific managementrecommends that managers ought to establish a standard procedurethrough which jobs are to be performed, and that employee trainingshould be designed such that it equips them with skills and abilitiesnecessary for working using a pre-determined standard method(Khurana, 2009 p. 2). Moreover, scientific management allows managersto use coercion and exercise control over their subordinates. Viewedfrom this dimension, it might be argued that scientific management isno longer relevant in the contemporary era, particularly given thatmost employees today value the recognition of their intrinsic needsas opposed to the extrinsic ones (Twenge et al., 2010 p. 1124). Inother words, various theories of motivation concur on the idea thathigher-order needs like belongingness and autonomy are moresatisfying than material rewards alone (Burns et al., 2012 p. 17).Supportively, Choudhary (2009, p. 95) asserts that fair wages are notenough to motivate workers to deliver their best. This means thatorganization that embrace scientific management are most likely to beperceived as ignoring workers’ intrinsic needs.

Additionally,with the emergence of debates regarding the best leadership modelthat should be employed in organizations, one might say that theemphasis that scientific management places on control together with atop-down system of decision making make the practice irrelevant formodern-day organizations (Burns et al., 2012 p. 17). It is uselessdenying the fact that leadership approaches that encourage employeeparticipation in decision-making processes have received significantsupport in today`s world. This is further reinforced by thewidely-shared belief that the transformational model of leadership isthe most appropriate in today`s business world. This is because itempowers employees to play a proactive role in helping organizationsto realize their goals (Pillai &amp Williams, 2004 p. 144 Wang etal., 2005 p. 421). These truths notwithstanding, a unanimousconclusion to the debate regarding the best leadership style is thatleadership is not an ‘either-or` phenomenon, but that leadershipeffectiveness depends on situational factors prevailing in a givenorganization (Burns et al., 2012 p. 17 Avolio, 2007 p. 25). Forthis reason, the situational model of leadership has been describedas forming the foundation of most contemporary leadership theories(Wart, 2003 p. 217). This is why even in some organizations today,managers may use a directive leadership style (Sims, Faraj &amp Yun,2009 p. 153), which embodies the practice of scientific management.

Conclusion

Scientificmanagement might have been invented hundreds of years ago, making ita classical management concept. However, its tenets remain deeplyembedded in virtually all organizations today. As revealed in thisreport, some of the leading companies in the world today stillembrace the principles of scientific management. To be more accurate,it has been learned that McDonald`s, a leading brand in the worldtoday, attributes much of its success to scientific management.Similarly, the giant carmaker, Toyota Company, still practices theprinciple of the mental revolution that was put forth by FrederickTaylor, the originator of scientific management. Besides these casestudies, the report has identified a number of management theoriesand concepts widely used in modern organizations, and which arerooted in scientific management. For instance, situationalleadership, which is widely used in organizations today, containssome elements of scientific management. In the same way, the conceptof employee development is a strong pillar of organizational success,and its roots are in scientific management. From these and otherexamples, it is unmistakable that scientific management is stillrelevant today, albeit not in its original form.

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