Analysis of Taylorism Theories and Human Relations Theory




“Work itself is organised according to Taylorian principles, while personnel departments and academics have busied themselves with the selection, training, manipulation, pacification and adjustment of ‘manpower’ to suit the work processes so organised. Taylorism dominates the world of production; the practitioners of ‘human relations’ and ‘industrial psychology’ are the maintenance crew for the human machinery.” (Braverman, 1974: 87)

This study tries to reveal the statement whether Taylorism theories tries to dictate the production world and the positions of Human Relations theory are just combined into the business operations, in order to just assist the worker output in a Taylorism manner.

According to the text of (Taylor, 1914: 1-2; Holloway, 1991: 71-72), it shows that the two theories main objective focus on the method of increasing organisational output and it also extensively determine the production processes which is the objective area that will be focus in this study. Braverman makes a critical evaluation on the production processes of a capitalist environment. He stated that in a capitalist surrounding, the management tries to deteriorate the skilfulness of workers because the capitalist control and subject them to do repetitive routines of work. As this is being stated in the text of (Milloy, 2011: 92-95).

The observations of Braverman have strong a linkage to those of Karl Marx, who through his theory of alienation, reached similar conclusions (Yuill, 2011: 104-107), as will be discussed extensively in the last section of this study.

Reasons of confessing about the statement

Based, on Milloy (2011: 92-95) notes, Braverman’s stated that the statement of Taylorism dominates the production world was a conclusion of an examination which shows  advanced position by Taylor, according to the availability of  a highly popular capitalist management practices visible in most companies during the 70 century. Just like in the current business environment, firms were depending on system that link certain persons who undertook specific activity and were answerable to individuals of a higher level, in that order, until higher management level (Milloy, 2011: 94-97). To Braverman, these structure shows an evidence of Taylorism in the business operation. Moreover, various aim could be attempted to complement the worker’s society status value in the workplace, as the Human Relations theory supports, the main driver of business operation, according to Braverman and Taylor principles and also the statement.

Taylor Principle

Taylor principles theories main focus are on the scientific approaches towards the management of workers (Bruce & Nyland, 2011: 391-393). During, the late 19th-century most factory manager, were eager in increasing the output level of labours (Weisbord, 2011: 169-171). The theorist recognised that, in order to enlarge the output level, burden of workers had to be broken into smaller units and authorise the task to the particular individuals, which this is known as the process called specialisation (Weisbord, 2011: 169-171).  As Milloy (2011: 93-96) suggests, Taylor ground position is on the worker’s motive to perform these duties on a daily routine basis and to the satisfactory level of their need for money. Therefore, according to Taylorian principles, the compensation of workers should be based according to their productivity levels within the certain period of time (Weisbord, 2011: 170-173). A critical observation of Braverman’s statement and the application of existing business world will certainly reveal that Taylor principles dictates the production world. Workers gain salary according to the working hours of worker in the workplace, earn bonuses and benefits depending on the productive level of workers and their performance (Kaplan & Atkinson, 2015: 565-569).  As Kaplan & Atkinson (2015: 556-561) examine, modern management mainly involves the combination of small business procedure and then effectively provide duties to certain individuals and supervising the implementation procedure of these tasks, which then would linked to building up the whole company operation structures.  These aspects indicates that Braverman’s statement is true. Yet, as Gerhart & Fang (2015: 493-496) suggested, in many organisations there is a separation between the output per units of workers and their salary levels. Furthermore, aspects such as gender pay gaps have further served to obscure the mechanism of linking productivity with rewards (Gerhart & Fang, 2015: 497-501) and in most cases, the Taylor principles do not employ.

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Human Relations

Human Relations theory holds the position which increase the worker output, firms should invest in the workers social well-being (Barkema et al., 2015: 463-466). Thus, according to the theory, workers should be allowed to have communications that are both official and causal.  As opposed to the Taylorism principle, which identify capital as the operator for worker productivity, the theory emphasises that links with each other and the management are the creators of worker achievement and output (Bruce & Nyland, 2011: 396-401). Also, the Human Relations theory focus on the fact when undertaking their business roles, workers are not independently rational, as forced by their motive to meet their economic needs, a position contribute by Taylor, but are depending on each other (Bruce & Nyland, 2011: 396-401). Accordingly, Taylorism takes into account the fundamental strategies when relating workers objective with business goals, where it assumed that the desire can be related with the economic needs of the two (Weisbord, 2011: 169-171), the Human Relations principles identify that the relationship can only be create by building up social value of workers. The assessment of Braverman’s statement is true in various ways. In the 21st century business world, Human Relations manner such as happy workplace, informal interactions with friends, are not noticeable as a vital practices (Barkema et al., 2015: 463-466).  According to Donka, George & Stefanos (2015: 69) they suggest that, these aspects that structure the main controversy of Human Relations theory are recognised as facilitators of current business procedures and operations, which as observed by Braverman, are based on Taylorism principles. Nevertheless, the pursuit of innovativeness, company’s such as Google  marked themselves by having fun workplace , highly flexible working hours and variety  employee benefits , are tearing apart ranks with these approaches and have reconstruct their structures to principally focus on the workers social well-being (Payton, 2015: 57-63),  according with the Human Relation theory. Respectively, Taylor scientific management dominate the current business world, as time pass by businesses tries to become competitive, Human Relations principles are likely to be more significant, like in the case of Google.

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Karl Marx

Karl Marx investigated the production procedure in his theory of alienation. Marx noted that capitalist management tends to deteriorate the worker’s skilfulness and the ability (Calhoun, 2012: 87-88) the three main reasons. First, Karl Marx claimed that during the workers delivered the products that had a high value, they were not appropriately compensated for their efforts, which could lead them to the feelings of uncontent (Calhoun, 2012: 87-88) and an unappreciation of their respective expertise (Shantz, Alfes & Truss, 2014: 2531-2534). Second, the theorist also indicate the fact that capitalist management practice are considerable authority and control over workers, which limited their talents and abilities (Shantz, Alfes & Truss, 2014: 2531-2534). Third, according to the research of Shantz, Alfes & Truss (2014: 2531-2534) and Calhoun (2012: 87-88), Marx noted that capitalist management has a characteristic of continual and strict routines that transformed workers into tools of the production process, rather a force that had the potential of having a positive impact on business activity . The examination of these positions and the comparison of the statement of Braverman will uncover that the both Marx and Braverman theory had similar observations. Taylorism supports a capitalist style of management, where workers are expected to be productive to their highest levels based on their pay, and the extensive breaking down of production processes and creation of routine-based roles (Bruce & Nyland, 2011: 391-395). Therefore, as captured in Braverman’s statement, Karl Marx, through the alienation theory, it seems that it have reached the position that capitalist management dominates the firm, which, essentially, is Taylorism. Yet, it can be argued that Karl Marx agreed with the Taylor principle of assuming that workers are motivated by the pay of salary. However, the inspiration behind Karl Marx’s position on appropriate worker salary was the worker’s well-being, which advocates the Human Relations theory.

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In conclusion, Braverman’s quote that Taylor theory influence the production world and that the positions support by Human Relations are only employed to aid the existence of a highly organised business structure that are noticeable  by strong Taylorian principles is true.  Nowadays, businesses are characterised by the compensation systems that are mainly on the workers working duration and a strong important on the output within certain amount of periods, which is related with Taylor. Next, the well-being of workers should be consider rather than the productivity. This is because the well-being is perceived as a factor that improve workers performance within a highly organised system of a firm. On the contrary, the development of an innovative culture, companies such as Google have modernised their corporate structure on Human Relations principles, which this could indicate the future, the Human Relations principle could be replace by the business environment of Taylor.


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