A comparison of Taylor and Fayol’s management theories


The purpose of this essay is to discuss the two management philosophies from Taylor’s and Henri Fayol’s. One management theory is focus on task while another is focus on people. Both theories have made contributions in modern management practices. We will discuss the theories and outline their efficiency and effectiveness in the current firms.

FW Taylor Philosophy

Taylor’s management theory focuses on task management. This theory is called “scientific management” or “Taylorism”. He found that two different workers performing the same task will have different outcome and the number of output. He categorized them as first class worker and average worker (Sheldrake J, 2003a). The first class workers are highly motivated and work efficiently rather than wasting time or restricting output. They are ideal works for many industries, but not all workers are first class workers, most of them are average workers. They only work slow and easy until the wages they get paid. As the result, it drives down the production efficiency, because workers are not motivated. Thus, Tayloer’s task management develops the theory to show how to motivate workers toward a greater work performance and productivity.

This theory is important to many industries firms; it helps them to using less time to increase more production efficiency. This management benefits firms create more output while still paying fair wage to the workers. The aim for this theory is to reduce inefficiency toward the output performance. Taylor suggested the wage levels based on output which means the workers will only be paid by the amount of their productivity. The more output they produced, the more wage they are paid. Thus, it drives their motivation toward a better standard. It doesn’t just increase the efficiency, but also reduce the working hours. There are seven approaches to improve the productivity in this theory. Select the appreciated workers and observe them to perform the tasks. Then record the time taken for each task and identify the quickest method. The last three are providing training, supervise workers to ensure the “best way” is carried out and pay workers on the basis of results (Stimpson P & F. A, 2010).

In order to apply Taylor’s approaches, the task has to be specialized, so workers don’t have to be trained all the time and always under-supervised. However, Taylor’s task management has two advantages and two disadvantages. When we look at work specialization, it can increase the efficiency by using the minimum resources such as time or labor. It means that it is not helpful if the output is produced at the maximum outcome while waste many resources. Using minimum resources to produce the maximum result increases the work efficiency and also production efficiency. The other advantage from Taylor’s theory, a specialized work means a profession. The problems will be solved easily, because workers are clearly known what went wrong and how to solve the problems. Workers are always familiar with what they do, so they won’t waste time on finding out the solution for specific problem. Therefore, the work specialization doesn’t just explain the efficiency in outcome, but also increase the efficiency in process.

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On the other hand, there are two disadvantages on work specialization. The first one is a specialized work always make workers feel board, because they are doing the same thing at the same time for 40 hours a week, 365 days a year. As the result, It can cause many problems such as workers feel sick at their work. In addition, they won’t be careful on every single task which leads mistakes. Hence, work specialization is only beneficial in the short-run, because in the long-run, the work can become inefficient when workers making a lot of mistakes. The other disadvantage is high cost if the workers are resigned, retired or anything that makes them to stop work in the firm. The costs are included firms spending money to look for another new workers and it takes time for them to familiarize the task. In addition, the skills that were taught in the training, workers could reveal the skills to other competitor firms. It can be a cost as well. Thus, we can see that work specialization doesn’t necessarily exact management. Even though the efficiency in output results increases, but other factors will drive the efficiency down.

Henri Fayol’s Philosophy

In the Henri Fayol’s theory, he focuses on the administration and learning experience from people in the management. In his philosophy, he thinks that to manage people (worker), a firm should have a tight control. He has discovered 14 approaches and only few will be explained in this essay (Sheldrake J, 2003b).

The first one is division of work; it doesn’t mean work specialization, but workers share different task to different activities. It is slightly different than Taylor’s, the work here specialized the activities or departments rather than work specialized. Subsequently, it is authority, a firm should decide who has the power to command or give order to employees. The power flow is important, because without a clear authority, it is difficult to make the final decision inside the firms. A clear discipline is essential, because it is the agreement between firm and employees. The discipline can keep workers have an appreciate behavior. The discipline also shows a clear warnings, fines, suspensions, demotions and dismissals if workers are out of the line (Sheldrake J, 2003b)

The third approach is unity of command, it is similar with authority, but it shows a clear command of orders. It means that workers will only listen to only one command and no one else. Without the chain of command, the workers are always confused who should they listen to. The next approach is centralization which means whether the decision is made by top manager or in the lower managers. There are some departments in a firm, centralized decision means only one person; the top manager makes the final decision. On the other hand, decentralized is the decisions can be made by lower managers when it is related to their field of activities. The last one is equality; a firm should treat every workers the same no matter their performance. Everyone should be equal and have certain power to speak or have a say (Sheldrake J, 2003b).

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There are again two advantages and disadvantages in Henri Fayol’s philosophy. It is difficult to identify them in the general management, but some approaches are useful and also have limitations. We can find them from centralization structure. The advantage from centralization is tight control. The top manager always knows what’s going on inside the firm. However, the disadvantage is time inefficiency. On the other hand, a decentralized structure can also have advantage and disadvantage. If the decision is made in the lower management department, it could save a lot of time to process the information to the top manager. The reason is the decision is made immediately by the lower manager; it is time efficient, because the problems/issues will be solved immediately rather than ask the permission. However, because the information is limited in the lower management department, as the result, the decision can be erroneous. Hence, if the decision is made by the entire lower departments, those decisions are not consistent to each other.

The other approach from Henri Fayol’s will also have advantage and disadvantage. For example, the authority, a grant permission to all the power to one manager. It can be a disaster, because he might not listen to other people’s opinions or ideas. It can cause the firms have gone terribly just because he has made a huge mistakes. On the other hand, it is time efficiency and a clear responsible person if there are small mistakes. For an instance, too many ideas in the discussion, it takes a lot of times to process and choose the final decision. However, if one person has authority, he could make the decision immediately without another word.

Efficiency and effectiveness

In the modern management practices, Taylor’s management can only be helpful in some situation. We have seen that the work focuses have ignored many human requirements. Unlike the workers in the past, the workers these days demand more their personal desires, wants and rights. They cannot stand doing the same work for everyday in their life. It is not just about emotional whether they feel bored. However, also they want to do more other works that doesn’t have to sit there all day or cannot have fresh air. This type of management requires workers psychologically fit in the position. For example, some old or retired people, because they cannot do too much physical works, but are patient at specialized works which is more interesting than doing nothing. In order to solve the problems, workers should switch the works between each other frequently. It means this month they specialized this part of components and doing the other in the next month. As the result, it can avoid to ignore human requirements.

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However, this management theory is the best concept to demonstrate the work efficiency. If a firm wants to maximize the work efficiency immediately in the short-run without caring other issues, this is probably the best and the most suitable ways. Moreover, job specialization creates a clear work tasks for workers and the owner. In the company’s administration, the manager knows who responsible to which activities, so it can minimize the conflicts inside the firm. The reason is a clear administrative, shirk or push away their responsibilities which is easier for the manager and workers.

In the modern’s management, Fayol’s theory is widely used, because it concerns many factors in work force such as authority, chain of command or centralization. Without these approaches, even though the productivity is efficient, but it would cause many problems inside the environment and makes workers unwilling to stay with the firm. Fayol’s theory makes management practice less complicated. For example, without authority, it will cause many conflicts that nobody is listening to anyone. The reason is they think they have power to make the decision and when it decision is made differently, the firm will not doing the same job toward the same purpose of it.

Subsequently, without the unit of command, workers are confused who should they listen to. Whose order is right for them and who should hold the responsibilities for their works? It is not easy to blame or reward everybody just because one task has done great. The person who gives orders or command also represents the team to receive the request from the owner or the firm. As the result, he/she would arrange the schedule or assign the works separately to the workers. If the unit of command is successes, it can increase the efficiency of internal communication as well. Therefore, with the modern management practices, there are so many workers and my works inside a firm, Fayol’s management theory is very popular and widely used in current management practice.


In conclusion, the two management theories have made certain contribution in current management work force. They are still un-forgettable nowadays.


Sheldrake J, (2003a), Management Theory, Chapter 2 F.W. Taylor and scientific management, pg 14 – 26, 2nd ed, Thomson learning, Retrieved 25 February 2015

Sheldrake J, (2003b), Management Theory, Chapter 5 Henri Fayol and administration, pg 46 – 55, 2nd ed, Thomson learning, Retrieved 26 February 2015

Stimpson P & Farquharson A, (2010), Business Studies, Chapter 9 Motivation, Pg 156, 2nd ed, Cambridge University Press, Retrieved 25 February 2015

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