Use of Scientific Management in the 21st Century Roberta Larkins Jones International University April 14, 2010 Abstract The 19th and 20th Century gives the foundation of the shift in management modeling. Frederick Taylor, Henry Gantt, and Lillian Gilbreth gave great insight into the need for a paradigm shift in business. The elements of this shift form the basis of the four principles of Scientific Management. The principles of Scientific Management and their use in the 21st Century are the elements of this paper.
Use of Scientific Management in the 21st Century The management of an organization that has a structural system which clearly defines the functions of the departments, groups, and individuals can be defined by the term Scientific Management originated by Frederick Taylor. (Nelson, 2003, p. 1) The Encyclopedia for Business (n. d. ) defines Scientific Management as “methods aimed at determining the best way for a job to be done. (n. d. , pg 6).
While the initial use of Scientific Management in dealing with issues of efficiency and productivity is rooted in the history of management theory during the 19th Century and early in the 20th Century, the same organizational needs are evident in business today and the usage of the fundamentals of Scientific Management can be used to effectively increase both efficiency and productivity in a 21st Century organization. The Pioneers Frederick Taylor, known as ‘the most in? ential business guru of the 20th century’ (154), began his journey into business in an apprenticeship to a patternmaker for a pump manufacturing company in Philadelphia. (Wren, 2004, 121) It is here Taylor has the opportunity to see firsthand what the employees are experiencing and make note of the elements of discourse. Wren describes the conditions as “worker restriction of output, poor management, and lack of harmony between labor and management” (2004, p. 122). As Taylor continued to advance in his career, he stood witness to instances of these same conditions in the employees at Midvale Steel Company.
It is during this time in his career along with his desire to change those working conditions that he began the work in Scientific Management that allows him to make his mark in managerial history. Henry Gantt, also a mechanical engineer, worked with Taylor for many years and both were partners in the development the concept of scientific management, although Taylor is more widely recognized for the model. Gant’s influence provided fuel for a better understanding of human nature in the workforce by improving employee representation plans , improving the practices of human-resources, and cooperation by labor-management,. Wren, 2004, p. 165) The human side of management is also the focus of works by Lillian Gilbreth, who is often called the first lady of management. (Pioneers of Management, n. d. , p7). Together they were the driving force in the use of Scientific Management and the creation of human resource principles within an organization. The Fundamentals Taylor viewed business as “a system of human cooperation that will be successful only if all concerned work toward a common goal” (Wren, 2004, p. 125). The four principles of Scientific Management address the initial concerns that Taylor witnessed.
Hodgetts and Greenwood (1995) share the four fundamentals as (1) Develop a science for each element of the person’s work, thus replacing the old rule of thumb, (2) Scientifically select, and then train, teach, and develop the worker, (3) Heartily cooperate with the personnel so as to insure that all of the work is done in accordance with the principles of the science that it has been developed, and (4) Management should take over all the work for which it is best fitted than the workers, and allow the latter to handle the rest. (1995, p. 18-221) These fundamentals can also transfer into the resolution of the original conditions by increasing worker productivity, effective management, and creating a harmonious relationship between management and worker. Increasing Worker Productivity Embedded into principles one and two, are considerations for sound human-resource management today. Taylor anticipated the concept of matching the abilities of a worker to an assigned job. (Wren, 2004, p. 129) Instead of developing their own approach to a job through experience, the employee will learn to do it the right way. Hodgetts & Greenwood, 1995, p. 218) plus trained in newer techniques which will allow the employee to be more productive in their output. Taylor’s belief in productivity was grounded in the idea “the real potential for increased output was not ‘working harder’ but ‘working smarter. ’” (Wren, 2009, p. 128). Hodgetts and Greenwood (1995) describe the ability to increase productivity “by training, teaching, and developing their personnel, this quality-driven organization was able to achieve substantial increases in efficiency and cost savings. ” (1995, p. 220).
Effective training assesses the training need within an organization, trains the employee with advanced or more efficient tools and techniques, then allows the employee to return to the organization and utilize their new skills thereby increasing the productivity of the employee. Effective Management The third principle in scientific management is presented by the utilization of effective management in an organization. According to Taylor, the principle object of management is to secure the maximum level or prosperity for both employer and each employee. (Wren, 2009, p. 48). Whether this is done by 21st Century talent management programs including bonuses and promotions, or 19th Century reward and recognition system, the inclusion of something that demonstrates to the employee that he or she is valued is essential. Harmonious Relationship The fourth principle of scientific management is to enforce the theory of workers and management coming together in order to run a successful organization. Part of this effort is in allowing the workers to become part of the solutions needed achieve higher levels of efficiency and productivity.
Darmody (2007) shares that management now realizes that when workers are given the opportunity to suggest ideas, they will work harder in the implementation of and assurance in the success of them. (2007, p. 23). Taylor’s view of this is continuous improvement effort. Conclusion The four principles of scientific management were important in the 19th century and continue to be important in the 21st Century in business. An organization that has a goal to remain successful and competitive must incorporate all four components into the strategic plan.
As the mindset of management shifts to deal with the internal and external forces of business in moving forward, a look back at the vision of Taylor, Gantt, and Gilbreth will assist the organization to succeed. References Darmody, P. (2007). Henry L. Gantt and Frederick Taylor: The Pioneers of Scientific Management. AACE International Transactions, 15. 1-15. 3. Retrieved from Business Source Premier Database. Hodgetts, R. , & Greenwood, R. (1995). Frederick Taylor: Alive and Well and Ready for the 21st Century.
Academy of Management Best Papers Proceedings, 218-222. Retrieved from Business Source Premier Database. Nelson, D. , (2003, Jan) Scientific Management, Dictionary of American History, Retrieved from http://www. highbeam. com/doc/1G2-3401803768. html Pioneers of Management. (n. d. ). In Encyclopedia of Business (2nd ed. ). Retrieved from http://www. referenceforbusiness. com/management/Or-Pr/Pioneers-of-management. html Wren, D. , (2009) the evolution of management thought (6th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons