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Principles of Scientific Management

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Everything you need to know about the principles of scientific management as given by F.W. Taylor.

In a fundamental sense, scientific management is an attitude and a philosophy which discards the traditional hit-and-miss and rule-of-thumb method of managing work and workers; it means the acceptance and application of the method of scientific investigation for the solution of the problems of industrial management.

The methods used in any scientific investigation include research and experimentation, collection of data, analysis of data, and formulation of certain principles on the basis of such analysis. Scientific management seeks to maximize the efficiency of the plant by using these methods for its operation.

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Some of the principles of scientific management are:-

1. Replacement of Old Rule of Thumb Method 2. Scientific Selection and Training of Workers 3. Co-Operation between Labour and Management 4. Maximum Output 5. Equal Division of Responsibility

6. Mental Revolution 7. Harmony, not Discord 8. Development of Each and Every Person to His or Her Greatest Efficiency and Prosperity 9. Subordination of Individual Interests to General Interest.


Taylor Principles of Scientific Management

Principles of Scientific Management – 6 Principles of Scientific Management by Taylor

The scientific management of Taylor is based on five principles which are discussed as follows:

(i) Replacement of Old Rule of Thumb Method:

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Scientific investigation should be used for taking managerial decisions instead of basing decisions on opinion, intuition or rule of thumb. The principle of use of science for rule of thumb is the starting point that distinguishes scientific management from traditional management.

Under scientific management decisions are made on the basis of acts as developed by the application of scientific method to the problem concerned. This is in contrast with the approach followed under traditional management according to which decisions are based on opinions, prejudices, or rule of thumb. Thus substitution of rule of thumb or opinion by scientific approach is one of the primary contributions of Taylor to the field of management.

(ii) Scientific Selection and Training of Workers:

The procedure for selection of workers should be designed scientifically. The errors committed at the time of selection may prove to be very costly later on. If we do not have right workers on the right job, the efficiency of the organisation will be reduced. Therefore, every organisation should follow a scientific system of selection.

The selected workers are to be trained to avoid wrong methods of work Management is responsible for the scientific education and training. The management has to provide opportunities for development of workers having better capabilities.

(iii) Co-Operation between Labour and Management:

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There should be co­operation between the workers and the management. This requires change of mental attitudes of the workers and the management towards each other. Taylor called it mental revolution. When this mental revolution takes place, workers and management turn their attention towards increasing profits. They do not quarrel about the distribution of profits.

(iv) Maximum Output:

The management and the workers should try to achieve maximum output in place of restricted output. This will be beneficial to both the parties. Maximum output will also be in the interest of the society.

(v) Equal Division of Responsibility:

There must be equal division of responsibility between the managers and the workers. The management should assume responsibility for the work for which it is better suited. For instance, management should decide the method of work, working conditions, time for completion of work, etc. instead of leaving these to the discretion of workers.

The management should be responsible for planning and organising the work, whereas the workers should be responsible for the execution of work as per instructions of management.

(vi) Mental Revolution:

The basic- idea behind the principles of scientific management is to change the mental attitudes of the workers and the management towards each other. Taylor called it ‘Mental Revolution’.

According to Taylor, “In its essence, scientific management involves a complete mental revolution on the part of the working men connected in any particular establishment or industry and it involves equally complete mental revolution on the part of those on the management’s side — the foremen, the superintendent, the owner of the business, the board of directors. Without the complete mental revolution on both sides, scientific management does not exist.”

The great revolution that takes place in the mental attitude of the two parties under scientific management is that both sides take their eyes off the division of the surplus as the all-important matter, and together turn their attention towards increasing the size of the surplus until this surplus becomes so large that it is necessary to quarrel over how it should be divided.

They come to see that when they stop pulling against one another, and instead both turn and push shoulder to shoulder in the same direction, the size of the surplus created by their joint efforts is truly astounding.

They both realise that when they substitute friendly cooperation and mutual helpfulness for antagonism and strife, they are together able to make this surplus so enormously greater than it was in the past that there is ample room for a large increase in wage for the workmen and an equally great increase in profits for the manufacturer.

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Taylor wanted to bring about mental revolution on the part of the workers and the management. Without the revolutionary change in attitudes, he could not think of scientific management.

The mental revolution has three facets:

(i) All out efforts for increase in production;

(ii) Creation of the spirit of mutual trust and confidence; and

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(iii) Inculcating and developing the scientific attitude towards problems.

Taylor suggested that management should try to find the best methods of doing various jobs and introduce standardised materials, tools and equipment so that wastages are reduced. The management should select right types of people and give them adequate training so as to increase the quantity and quality of production.

It must create congenial working conditions for optimum efficiency of the workers. It should perform the decision-making function and should always give maximum cooperation to the workers to ensure that work is done according to the scientific techniques. The workers should also change their attitude towards the management.

They should not be work-shirkers. They should be disciplined, loyal and sincere in fulfilling the tasks assigned to them. They should not indulge in wastage of resources. Both the management and the workers should trust each other and cooperate in achieving maximum production.


Principles of Scientific Management – With Examples

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Taylor’s ideas set the basis for laying down the principles of scientific management that aimed at maximising production and efficiency of every worker and design a system that enabled maximisation of operations between employees and employers.

These principles are discussed below:

Principle # 1. Science, not Rule of Thumb:

Rule-of-thumb methods are traditional approaches that suited organisations in the past. Under mass production, the volume of work had expanded that required scientific methods to manage and control work easily. Accordingly, Taylor suggested that methods of a particular business activity should be scientifically studied prior to their application to avoid mistakes. He suggested introduc­ing standardised and guaranteed approaches that led to efficiency in operations.

For example, a textile factory consists of 150 workers and there are five different units within this factory (spinning, weaving, stitching, adding buttons and embroidery). Each of these units was assigned with a specialist foreman who has knowledge and experience regarding that particular activity. There will be five specialist foremen who will be assigned with 30 workers each distributed among five business units.

Principle # 2. Harmony, not Discord:

Under this principle, workers and management should work in harmony with mutual cooperation and coordination. Workers should not be overburdened with work, while should not feel dissatisfied with their investment of time and money in an organisation. According to Taylor a firm can achieve maximum prosperity if workers and management work with each other leading to development of a cordial relationship with each other and team spirit, and organisational goals can be achieved easily.

For example, workers are assigned with work by one superior (like a functional foreman). These superiors are allocated separate bureaucratic powers and can divide the particular activity into several tasks depending upon the complexity of the activity. They act as disciplinarians, mediators during disputes and review workers’ performance. Such relationship between workers and superiors is necessary as it creates harmony and avoids confusion along with conflict.

Principle # 3. Cooperation, not Individualism:

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In continuation with the earlier point, it is coordination and not individualism that will assist in achieving organisational goals. Cooperation is an action of working together and Taylor states employees and manage­ment should cooperate with each other that could lead to high morale and team spirit. In the earlier example on harmony between workers and superiors, workers are expected to cooperate and undertake responsibility and accountability for completion of work. As soldering led to underwork and individualism, Taylor observed that factories endured excessive costs and wastage of resources.

Principle # 4. Development of Each and Every Person to His or Her Greatest Efficiency and Prosperity:

Taylor suggested that all possible human efforts should be utilised maximally leading to efficiency and prosperity for the workers and the business. This means that workers with suitable skills and capabilities should be fittingly considered for certain activities in an organisation. This also means that workers should be employed for specific and specialised activities that possibly requires minimal efforts and eliminates errors and wastage of resources.

For example- well-built worker who can carry a certain load or weight should be given the responsibility to carry gunny bags of products into the firm. A weak-built with no experience or idea about carrying any load but relevant experience in a certain field (like accounting) is given a specific job (like an accountant) that involves minimal manual work.


Principles of Scientific Management – Five Principles: Science, not Rule of Thumb, Harmony, not Discord, Cooperation, not Individualism and a Few Others

(1) Science, Not Rule of Thumb:

Under ‘Scientific Management’, each element (or component) of any job and the motions required to perform it, are scientifically analyzed to determine the standard time and standard methods of doing it with maximum efficiency.

The time and methods of doing any part of the job are fixed objectively, with micro-filming of motions performed by an average worker, and with a stop-watch to record the time of each individual motion. Similarly, the tools and the working conditions are arranged scientifi­cally. There is absolutely no hit-or-miss or rule-of-thumb approach.

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(2) Harmony, Not Discord:

‘Scientific Management’ provides for adequate remuneration to workers to produce more, and also seeks to facilitate it. As a result, workers perform their jobs sincerely and enthusiastically. Since management will gain as a result of increased productivity, it will readily pay higher wages. There is complete har­mony of interests between workers and the management, leading to a mutually beneficial relationship.

(3) Co-Operation, Not Individualism:

‘Scientific Management’ promotes co-operation between workers and the management as also between the workers. Management can look forward to larger profits only if workers perform their jobs with maximum efficiency and economy, which is important determinant of better quality, lower costs, and larger sales.

Workers on their part can expect to receive higher wages if the management (a) Adopts an enlight­ened attitude towards them, crucial to raising productivity levels, and (b) Provides them with stan­dard materials, standard tools, standardized working conditions, and training in standard methods to enable increased productivity.

If the management or the workers seek all the gains of increased productivity without sharing the same with each other, they will both be losers, because success of ‘Scientific Management’ depends on co-operation rather than individualism on the part of either.

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‘Scientific Management’ also promotes co-operation as between workers. In any manufacturing concern, the activities of all individuals and departments are linked with one another. This means delay or interruption of work at any point will affect work at other points. This may result in lower production and lower wages. The fear of reduced earnings may force workers to help and co-operate with one another for smooth working at all levels.

(4) Maximum Output, not Restricted Output:

Under ‘Scientific Management’, the management and the workers are equally interested in attaining maximum output. For the management, maximum output will lead to increased profits and production costs. For the workers, it will mean an increased share in prosperity of the business by way of higher wages and bonus.

Consequently, both seek to do their utmost to achieve maximum output. Manage­ment will do this by way of provision of standard materials, standard tools and standardized working conditions, and the workers by performing their jobs efficiently.

(5) Development of each Man to his Greatest Efficiency and Prosperity:

Under ‘Scientific Management’, workers are selected and trained in accordance with the require­ments of jobs to be performed by them. With this end in view, physical, educational and psychological requirements of each job are clearly specified, and then the person who is most suitable for the job in question is selected. Workers are also systematically trained to enable them to become more proficient and up-to-date in all aspects of their work.

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When a worker is assigned a task or duty for which he is both physically and mentally well-equipped, and when he has been imparted regular training to update his skills, he will attain greater efficiency in his work methods. This will enable him to earn higher wages and mental satisfaction.

Taylor’s emphasis on (a) Scientific observation of each element of a worker’s job, (b) Job special­ization, (c) Proper selection, training and-development of workers, (d) Planning and scheduling of work, (e) Standardization as regards time and methods of work, and (f) Wage incentives, led to astounding increase in productivity as also wages for workers.

However, his scientific approach to every aspect of management made his methods suspect in the eyes of workers and their trade unions. They feared that the Taylor system might eventually lead to exhaustion of all available work and cause retrenchment, depriving them of the means of livelihood.

Nevertheless, Taylor made outstanding contribution to promoting efficiency and effectiveness as regards jobs and their management. His methods of analysis served as foundation for the development of time and motion study and formulation of management theory.


Principles of Scientific Management

According to Taylor, “Scientific Management is the art of knowing exactly what you want men to do and then seeing that they do it in the best and cheapest way.”

The principles of scientific management as propounded by F.W. Taylor are as follows:

(i) Science, not rule of thumb- According to this principle, scientific management is the development of a true science for each element of man’s work to replace the old rule of thumb.

(ii) Harmony, not discord- According to this principle, workers should be selected and trained with due care. Their skills and experiences should be matched with the requirements of the jobs they are to perform.

(iii) Cooperation, not individualism- Scientific management puts great emphasis on the promotion of harmony and cooperation between workers and the management so as to maximise efficiency.

(iv) Maximum output, not restricted output- According to this principle, the aim of both workers and the management should be to maximise output.

(v) Development of each man to his greatest efficiency and prosperity- Scientific management aims at maximum prosperity of both employers and employees. For this purpose, workers and the management should cooperate and maximise output instead of fighting on the division of surplus or profits.


Principles of Scientific Management – 4 Principles

Principles of scientific management are as follows:

1. Science, not Rule of Thumb:

This principle involves use of scientific method in place of rule of thumb. Rule of thumb involves ‘tried and error methods’ or ‘hit and miss methods’ which is costly affair. Scientific method involves investigation of traditional work methods through work study and unifying the best practices and developing a standard method which would be followed throughout the organization.

2. Harmony, not Discord:

This principle involves maintaining harmony between management and workers in place of discord (conflict) between them. Both should realize that they require each other. Management should share the gains of the organization with workers and workers should work hard with loyalty and be willing to embrace change for the good of the organization.

3. Cooperation, not Individualism:

This principle involves cooperation between management and workers instead of individualism. It suggests that management should encourage constructive suggestions from the workers and reward the suggestions which result in substantial reduction in time or costs.

This principle also suggests that management should take workers into confidence in making important decisions which affect workers and there should be almost equal division of work and responsibility between workers and management and both should work side by side.

4. Development of Each and Every Person:

This principle involves development of each and every person to his/her greatest efficiency and prosperity. There should be scientific selection of workers and work assigned to them should suit their physical, mental, and intellectual capabilities. Development of workers requires training at the workplace to keep them fully fit according to requirement of new methods of working which may be different from the non-scientific methods.


Principles of Scientific Management

The principles of scientific management given by Taylor are:

1. Science, not Rule of Thumb:

Taylor believed that there is only one best way of doing a work, which can be developed through scientific study and analysis. The method, so developed, should substitute ‘rule of thumb’ or ‘trial and error’ method in the organisation. By using scientific investigation and work study, the method so devised, will save effort and reduce wastage of resources.

2. Harmony, not Discord:

This principle lays stress on complete harmony between the management and workers. Both should realise the importance of each other. Taylor called for a complete mental revolution, which means that the management and workers should change their thinking. The management should share the gains of the company with the workers and the workers should resist going on strikes.

There should be complete openness between the management and the workers and they should realise that their true interests are one and the same and prosperity of employee and employer accompany each other.

3. Cooperation, not Individualism:

Instead of individualism, there should be complete cooperation between the workers and management. The management should listen to the constructive suggestions made by the employees. They should reward the worker for suggestions which help in reducing the costs.

The management should consult workers on taking decisions affecting them. Both management and workers should work in cooperation. The division of work and responsibility should be almost equal.

4. Development of Each and Every Person to His or Her Greatest Efficiency and Prosperity:

Scientific management advocates that the best method of doing the work should be developed through a scientific approach. This method should be taught to the workers through proper training. Taylor advocated that each person should be scientifically selected and then allotted work to suit his/her physical, mental and intellectual capabilities. Proper training should be imparted to increase the efficiency.


Principles of Scientific Management – Science, not Rule-of-Thumb, Discipline, Subordination of Individual Interests to General Interest and Development of Each and Every Person

(a) Science, not Rule-of-Thumb:

Essentially, scientific management consists of observation and analysis of each task, determination of the standard of work selecting and training men to perform their jobs and ensuring that work is done in most efficient manner. According to this method, application of scientific methods should replace the rule of thumb.

Taylor believed that there was only one best method to maximise efficiency. Scientific method involves investigation of traditional methods through work study. Unifying the best practices and developing a standard method, which would be followed throughout the organisation.

(b) Discipline:

Discipline in the context of management means obedience, proper conduct of relations with others, and complying with the rules and regulations of the organisations. Smooth running of business requires discipline. Discipline is required not only on the part of workers but also on the part of management. It is facilitated if there are good supervisors at all levels, rules are clear and penalties are imposed with fairness.

(c) Subordination of Individual Interests to General Interest:

Reconciliation of goals of individuals with those of the organisation helps to perform effectively as a team and achieve its goals. The sacrifice of personal interest in favour of organisational interest provides an automatic lubricant to the working of an organisation and helps to move it smoothly in a positive approach and direction.

(d) Development of Each and Every Person to His or Her Greatest Efficiency:

While selecting the employees due care should be taken and after selecting, they must be given jobs according to their qualifications, physical, mental and intellectual capabilities. The selected employees must be provided training from time to time to improve their skills and work performance. A firm should take steps to develop each employee to his greatest efficiency.


Principles of Scientific Management by Fredrick Winslow Taylor – With Criticisms

Fredrick Winslow Taylor commonly known as ‘Father of Scientific Management’ started his career as an operator and rose to the position of chief engineer. He conducted various experiments during this process which forms the basis of scientific management.

It implies application of scientific principles for studying and identifying management problems. In Taylors view, if a work is analyzed scientifically it will be possible to find one best way to do it. Hence scientific management is a thoughtful, organized, dual approach towards the job of management against hit or miss or Rule of Thumb.

“Scientific Management is an art of knowing exactly what you want your men to do and seeing that they do it in the best and cheapest way”- F.W. Taylor

Principles of Scientific Management are discussed below:

1. Development of science for each part of men’s job (replacement of rule of thumb):

This principle suggests that work assigned to any employee should be observed, analyzed with respect to each and every element and part and time involved in it. This means replacement of odd rule of thumb by the use of method of enquiry, investigation, data collection, analysis and framing of rules.

2. Scientific selection, training and development of workers:

There should be scientifically designed procedure for the selection of workers. Physical, mental and other requirement should be specified for each and every job. Workers should be selected and trained to make them fit for the job. The Management has to provide opportunities for development of workers having better capabilities.

3. Co-operation between management and workers or harmony not discord:

Taylor believed in co-operation and not individualism. It is only through co-operation that the goals of the enterprise can be achieved efficiently. There should be no conflict between managers and workers. Taylor believed that interest of employer and employees should be fully harmonized so as to secure mutually understanding relations between them.

4. Division of responsibility:

This principle determines the concrete nature of roles to be played by different level of managers and workers. The management should assume the responsibility of planning the work whereas workers should be concerned with execution of task.

5. Mental revolution:

The workers and managers should have a complete change of outlook towards their mutual relation and work effort. It requires that management should create suitable working condition and solve all problems scientifically. Similarly workers should attend their jobs with utmost attention, devotion and carefulness. They should not waste the resources of enterprise. Handsome remuneration should be provided to workers to boost up their moral. They will be disciplined, loyal and sincere in fulfilling the task assigned to them.

6. Maximum prosperity for employer and employees:

The aim of scientific management is to see maximum prosperity for employer and employees. It is important only when there is opportunity for each worker to attain his highest efficiency. Maximum output and optimum utilization of resources will bring higher profits for the employer and better wages for the workers. Both managers and workers should be paid handsomely.

Criticism of Scientific Management:

Although it is accepted that the scientific management enables the management to put resources to its best possible use and manner, yet it has not been spared of severe criticism.

Workers’s Viewpoint:

1. Unemployment:

Workers feel that management reduces employment opportunities from them through replacement of men by machines and by increasing human productivity, fewer workers are needed to do work leading to chucking out from their jobs.

2. Exploitation:

Workers feel they are exploited as Wages do not rise in proportion as rise in production. Wage payment creates uncertainty and insecurity (beyond a standard output, there is no increase in wage rate).

Employer’s Viewpoint:

1. Expensive:

Scientific Management is a costly system and a huge investment is required in establishment of planning dept. standardization, work study, training of workers. It may be beyond reach of small firms.

2. Time Consuming:

Scientific Management requires mental revision and complete reorganizing of organization. A lot of time is required for work, study, standardization and specialization.


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