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Submit for a feedback your answers to the two questions at the bottom of page 76. a) Reflect on Taylor s claim that his system was scientific . Is this a rhetorical or real claim? b) Can management practices and techniques achieve the status of a science? 2. Taylor s work laid the foundation of some management practices that still enjoy currency . Discuss in not more than 1000 words . 3. Give 4 difficulties an organisation is likely to encounter while implementing principles of management along the lines suggested by Fayol.
Answers 1a) Frederick Winslow Taylor was one of the major influences on the development of modern production management and also the founder of what came to be known as the scientific management movement. The principles presented by classical theorists such as Taylor provided the guidelines or framework in which an organisation should follow in order to maximise efficiency and productivity. Based on his personal experience in different factories and subsequent success in the implementation of his scientific prin ciples, Taylor believed there was only one best way to manage an organisation. According to Taylor, the success of an organisation depended on the use of systematic, scientific principles and practices, i.e. each job could be approached scientifically. So in a sense, Taylor s claim was indeed real and his practices have laid the foundations for modern management practices.
1b) In practice, work organisation is neither an exact science nor is it purely a managerial prerogative. The word science in terms of management implies the use of systematic techniques and principles from the sciences, i.e. computing, mathematics, etc to manage an organisation effectively and efficiently. It is not, however, possible to look at only the scientific aspect of mana gement. The social side of organisational life is equally if not more important when it comes to making decisions and planning strategies inside the organisation. This is because of the prevailing role of the individual in any organisation. Whilst the application of scientific principles can help to maximise efficiency in a company, it can only do so if the social actors are willing to follow them. Without employees and managers, there can be no organisation. Thus, management can be viewed as a merger of both scientific and social practices.
2. Taylor s work laid the foundation of some management practices that still enjoy currency . Discuss in no more than 1000 words. Frederick Winslow Taylor was a classical theorist and founder of wha t became the scientific management movement. The movement originated at the turn of the 20 th century and was founded on principles of measurement and precision. The theory of scientific management was put forward in an effort to identify key aspects of work and organisation which could be used to achieve efficiency through universal principles (Rosenfield & Wilson, Managing Organisations 2 nd Edition, p.11). There were four key principles to scientific management: 1. To establish a science of production ; 2. To select and train workers to achieve the scientific working of production; 3. To apply such a science to operatives or managers tasks; 4. To build cooperation between workers and management to achieve common goals. (Source: Clark, Smith & Littler, Management & the Modern Corporation: part 1 Guidebook, p.81) By following these principles, management was said to become a science . This study of work called for the practice of Task Decomposition . This involved maximum fragmentation where management applied job specialisation to increase efficiency; the separation of planning from doing whereby workers could not be trusted to understand their own job thus making it the responsibility of management to do all the planning and designing; divorcing direct from indirect labour where there was more and more investments in white collar workers; minimising skill requirements for the manual workers ; and reducing material handling to a minimum to ensure the efficient flow of materials to workers. Taylor expansion on the principles of division of labour into management and supervisory labour as seen above helped in the formation of his theory. Taylor s science concentrated on minimising any wasted movements to reduce time taken in the work process and thu s maximise the productivity of the work force. His aims are the same as most managers in today s modern corporations where time is money and competition is fierce between rivals. Taylor s influence in the organisational field has spread beyond his orig ins in the US, moving to Europe and even Asia. The ideas of Taylor s scientific management have been seen and associated in many foreign practices such as those from Britain, Germany and Japan. Many of his principles from scientific management are still being used in today s modern corporations. Some countries were far more accepting than others when it came to following Taylor s views, but most have indeed, be it to a small or large extent, received some knowledge of management from his theory. Although not exactly universal as he believed it to be, scientific management has nevertheless shed relevant light over the processes and techniques that are essential in managing an organisation and its employees. Many of his principles are still followed by managers all over the world and although scientific management is not the only idea being
implemented in modern corporations, it has nevertheless made a significant contribution to how work organisations are managed today. Taylor s system encouraged a more systematic division between planning, production, recruitment, and rewarding workers according to the amount of work done, i.e. task decomposition. These ideas were very successful for many companies and are still used today. Concentrating on large-scale corporations, it is easy to see Taylor s influence in the structure of the organisations and the policies being implemented by management. The long-standing elements of the division of labour and structural differentiation are still very much in evidence. For example, modern corporations still have an organisation structure with both lateral division of labour in the form of departments and sub-divisions, and the hierarchy with senior management at the top of the ladder, followed by perhaps heads of depart ments, then supervisors, and the production workers. There are also some companies which still employ the idea that workers are supposed to stick to the manual or practical tasks of doing their jobs, whereas the responsibility of planning and designing pol icies and strategies are the forte of management. Difficulties arising from the application of Taylor s principles were dependent on the kind of socio-cultural, political and economic environment of the country or region the company was located. Countries like Britain where British workers had strong craft and trade unions, this meant that employers had to consider the human side of organisational life more often than in the US. In addition, product markets more differentiated than the mass markets which made the flexibility of craft work was more suitable for the industry than deskilled manual labour favoured by Taylorism. Taylor s influence was especially apparent with the introduction of new industries such as food, drink and tobacco, light engineering and chemicals, which embraced the scientific management principle of mass production. The scale of German industry and its late industrialisation meant that it was more accepting towards science and more modern ideas. Germany also had a bureaucratic tradition and a high number of white-collar workers in industries that were highly receptive to Taylorism. Despite the importance of the craft apprenticeship system in Germany, many managers understood and respected the principles of scientific management and were committed to using Taylorism through the use of skill substitution and skill upgrading i.e. job specialisation. Because the study of work organisation and the formation of the scientific management theory was based the role models of the few large organisations of the time, i.e. the church, government administration and the army, its influence can still be felt everywhere. Most large corporations have the hierarchy and factories still employ the use of mass production and practices such as the moving car assembly line (Ford, 1949). Such practices originated from the principles put forward by Taylor and have even expanded to include and adapt to other industries. Even in small, island states like the Seychelles the principles of scientific management has laid the foundation for management practices in the large companies such as Cable & Wireless, Airtel and Intelvision (Telecommunication Industry), and banks such as Barclays, Seychelles Savings Bank and MCB.
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