Is Scientific Management Relevant?

Scientific management is an old management theory that is developed by F .W .Taylor in the 1880s. F.W. Taylor is called the “father of scientific management”. According to Taylor, the purpose of scientific management is to pursue the highest working efficiency. For hundreds of years, scientific management has played an important role in industrial field. In the modern society, some people misunderstood that scientific management has been out of date. As a matter of fact, there is a hypothesis that scientific management is still relevant in a predominantly economy especially in the service economy. As service economy has give high priority to working efficiency that may be one important reason why scientific management is still applied in the service economy (Christian, 1994). In the following paragraphs, the author would use some proofs to prove the hypothesis.

2.0 Application of Scientific Management in Predominantly Service Economy

In order to prove the hypothesis that scientific management is still relevant in a predominantly economy, it is necessary to discuss three key principles of scientific management and how it is applied in predominantly service economy.

The first principle of scientific management is that managers should have scientific research to every movement of workers and replace the old ones. This could be seen in the food industry. In most of modern food industry, workers are working in the assemble lines. McDonalds is a typical example of that. So, managers of food industry should scientifically simplify the movements and working procedures of workers so as to improve working efficiency of workers. From this perspective, scientific management is still relevant in a predominantly economy. It is updated in the 21 century (Freeman, 1996).

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The second principle of scientific management is that managers should carefully select workers and develop their skills. This could also be found and applied in the modern corporations especially in the modern service economy. For example, in the cleaning industry, in order to improve working efficiency, managers should carefully select employees. Then, there would be professional trainings to the employees. For example, in the clean industry, women are more suitable for light cleaning work and men are more suitable for heavy physical work (Luis, 2001). Mangers should carefully allocate the work to make sure that the right people are doing the right work. That is the application of scientific management in service economy.

The third principle of scientific management is that managers could monitor employees’ behaviors and pay the employees according to their working performance. This could be also found in the modern call center management. For example, electronic monitor is commonly applied in some call centers in order to have control over the employees’ working performance (Bain, 2002). Also, for the salary payment of employees in call centers, most call centers have adopted the traditional Taylor payment method. That is, there is a specific basic income of every employee. In addition, if they have finished their basic tasks and have done some extra works, they will get bonuses according to their working performance. This is the typical application of scientific management in the modern service economy. The advantage of this payment method is that it could greatly motivate employees and improve working efficiencies of employees. That is one important reason why it is still commonly applied in the modern service economy.

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While scientific management is still applied in the modern service economy, there are also some criticisms about scientific management for its limitations. Firstly, Taylor’s hypothesis about employees’ working motive is wrong. He held the idea that what the employees only care is the income. Taylor supported “X theory” and claimed that employees are economic people instead of social man (Barney, 1990). He had not found other related social factors about employees’ working motives. In the real life, employees not only care about income level; there are also other factors to influence them. For example, in the modern days, people’s living levels have been greatly improved. In some festivals, some people would like to have reunion with their families instead working for extra bonus or income. Secondly, scientific management paid more attention on the working efficiency instead of the employees themselves. It is a conflict with modern people-oriented thoughts. Although scientific management emphasis the matches between employees and positions, the purpose of that is to achieve the highest working efficiency instead of realizing the self-achievement of employees. There are two important limitations of scientific management. Despite of the limitations of scientific management, scientific management still has significant meaning for contemporary management.

3.0 Conclusion

In conclusion, scientific management is still relevant in a predominantly economy especially in the service economy. In order to prove the hypothesis, the author has discussed three key principles of scientific management and how it is applied in predominantly service economy. The first principle of scientific management is that managers should have scientific research to every movement of workers and replace the old ones. The second principle of scientific management is that managers should carefully select workers and develop their skills. The third principle of scientific management is that managers could monitor employees’ behaviors and pay the employees according to their working performance. In the modern service economy, people could find the application of the three principles. There are also some limitations of scientific management. For example, Taylor’s hypothesis about employees’ working motive is wrong. He has ignored other social factors that have influenced employees’ working motives. Scientific management paid more attention on the working efficiency instead of the employees themselves. Despite of its weakness, to some degree, scientific management theory still played an important role in the modern service economy.

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