Scientific management evolution of Scientific school of thought

Fredric Winslow Taylor was known as the ‘father of scientific management’. Born on 20th Match 1856 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S.A., he was a controversial figure in the history of management, studied at Phillips Academy in Exeter N.H and was later accepted at Harvard. His eyesight failed and thus he became an industrial apprentice in the depression of 1873. Taylor was a trained engineer who advocated the concept of industrial efficiency. He introduced time motion study in 1881. Under Taylor’s management system, factories were managed through scientific method rather than the previously prevailing empirical ‘rule of thumb’, followed in the days of late nineteenth century when Taylor devised his system of scientific management and published in 1911.

Scientific School of thought and Taylor

F.W. Taylor’s contribution to scientific management and evolution of the Scientific school of thought

In 1881 Taylor published a paper that stated the turning of metal into a science. Later his attention turned towards shoveling coal, he experiment it by using shovels of different designs to use on different material, from ‘rice’ coal to ore he was able to design shovels that would allow the worker to work whole day.

In doing so, he was able to reduce the number of people shoveling at the Bethlehem steel works from 500 to just 140. This work of his, and studies of the handling of the pig iron, greatly contributed to the analysis of work design and thus gave rise to method study.

In 1895, papers on incentive schemes were introduced. This was followed by a “Piece Rate System on Production Management in shop management. In 1909, came the much awaited straw in his cap. He published the work for which he is best known – Scientific School of Thought or Principles of scientific management.

A feature of Taylor’s work was his stop-watch timing. That was the basis of his observations. However, unlike the former activities of Perronet and others, he started to break the timings down into elements and it was he who coined the term, “Time Study”.

Taylor’s uncompromising attitude in developing and installing his ideas caused him much criticism. He advocated the belief that Scientific Method could be applied to all problems and was bound as much to managers as workers. In his own words he explained:

“The old fashioned dictator does not exist under scientific management. The man at the head of the business under scientific management is governed by rules and laws which have been developed through hundreds of experiments through just as much as the workman is, and the standards developed one equitable.”

Objectives of scientific management:

Four important objectives of scientific management are given below

1. The development of science was an important factor for each element of man’s work and the old “rule of thumb” method had to be replaced.

2. Instead of letting workers perform their own task, it was suggested that the management follow the scientific selection of workers, train them and let them develop.

3. The development of a spirit of hearty cooperation between management and workers would also ensure that the work would be carried out in accordance with scientifically devised procedures.

Read also  Pestle Analysis Of Ryan Air Management Essay

4. Scientific management also stated that division of work between management and workers should be in almost equal shares. Both the groups should take over the work for which they were best fitted, instead of the previous conditions in which the responsibility was largely put on the workers. This philosophy was designed specifically for organizations that followed hierarchy, had abstract rules throughout the organization and had impersonal relationship between the staff.

Behaviorist School of Thought

The founder – George Elton Mayo

George Elton Mayo was born on 26 December 1880 in Adelaide South Australia. He was the second child of a respected colonial family. He was expected to follow his grandfather into medicines but failed at the university studies and was sent to Britain. He was a psychologist and sociologist and lectured at the University of Queensland from 1919 to 1923. He then moved to Pennsylvania. He was professor of industrial research at Harvard Business School from 1926 to 1947. He is well known for his research including the Hawthorne experiment and his book The Human Problems of an industrial civilization. He concluded that people’s work performance is dependent both on social issues and job content. He suggested the tension of workers as ‘logic of sentiments’ and that of managers as ‘logic of cost and efficiency’ which could lead to conflicts within an organization.

Behaviorist School of Thought and Mayo

Behaviorist school of thought revolved around the idea of Hawthorne’s experiment, human relations and their outcome on workers in an organization. Human Relations was initially developed by Elton Mayo in the wake of Hawthorne experiments which he argued demonstrated the insufficiency of economic incentives for workers. Mayo argued that in most of the factories, the workplace had a sub-standard or anomic environment which failed to meet the social and emotional needs off workers resulting in conflictual labor relations causing an overall inefficiency.

Human Relations gave a solution to this problem by reversing the extreme division of labor set by the scientific school of thought, creating opportunities for team work and team solidarity thus fostering closer relations between the managers and labors. Workplace counseling played a major role too.

Mayo’s Hawthorne experiments

George Elton Mayo conducted experiments on human behavior from 1927 to 1932 at Hawthorne Works of Western Electric Company, Chicago. His research and experiments contributed to the organizational development in terms of motivation and human relations. He started these experiments by examining the physical and environmental influences of workplace i.e. brightness of light, humidity and later moved on to psychological aspects (e.g. break, group pressure, working hours) and their impact on motivation as it applies to productivity. He explained that: “what actually happened was that six individuals became a team and the team gave itself wholeheartedly and spontaneously to cooperation in the experiment. The consequence was that, they felt themselves to be participating freely and without afterthought, and were happy in the knowledge that they were working without coercion from above or limitation from below”. He concluded that workers were motivated by psychological conditions more than physical working condition and that they were motivated more by self interest.

Read also  Creation Of The Work Breakdown Structure Management Essay

The important conclusions which he drew form the experiments were:

1. There was an unwritten understanding between the workers and managers, regarding what was expected from them. He called it as ”psychological contract.”

2. A worker’s motivation can be increased by showing interest in them. He classified studying the workers (through experiments) as showing interest in them.

3. Work is a group activity, team work can increase worker’s motivation as it allows them to build strong working relationship and build trust between workers. Work groups are created formally by employers but also occur informally. Both informal and formal working groups should focus on increasing productivity as informal groups influence worker’s attitude and habits.

4. Workers are motivated by social aspects of work, as demonstrated socialising during and outside work and subsequent increase in motivation.

5. Workers are motivated by recognition, security and sense of belongingness.

6. The communication between workers and managers influences worker’s morale and productivity. Workers are motivated through a good working relationship with the management.

Comparing Scientific School of thought with that of Behaviorist School of thought

The contrast and comparison will be based on the approach the two adopt in order to carry out their work. It will show how the employee gets benefited or demoralized by the practices of both the principles of management. Scientific school of thought which is developed by F.W. Taylor focuses on scientific approach in carrying out tasks by workers in an organization where they are motivated to perform better by introducing incentives in their wages. Whereas Behaviorist school which has come into practice after the Hawthorne experiments of Elton Mayo aims at achieving productivity in an organization by motivating employees by providing them recognition of work, security and sense o belongingness. Let’s see how both the schools of management thought had their own ideas, principles and views.

Some of the prominent points of differences are:

1.The scientific school of thought emphasized a concern for task (output) i.e. it considered an individual worker to be the basic unit of an organization. While the Behaviorist School of thought stressed a concern for

relationships between the levels in an organization i.e. the informal group was now the basis of organization.

2. The function of the leader under scientific school of thought was that of setting work criteria and to enforce them on the workers and was seen as a figure of high authority. Whereas under the Behaviorist school of thought, the leader

was to facilitate cooperation and coordination among the employees while providing

assistance and opportunities for their ‘personal growth and development’ and he was seen as “an agent for intra and inter group communication”.

3. Taylorism avoided the ‘informal groups’, but the behaviorist movement supported

their existence. The reason for it was that the scientific management portrayed the worker as mechanical, passive and a being that worked only for monetary rewards and that the ‘best way’ to achieve organizational goals was to maintain as much rationality as possible. But the behaviorist movement believed that the existence of such informal groups would facilitate good communication and cooperation among members and it would help achieve organizational goals.

Read also  Psychological contract breach effects and violation on employees

4. the Scientific school of thought’s main aim was at the growth of the organization, but the worker’s individual growth was not a prime matter of concern as it exercised external control over the worker’s performance, while the behaviorist movement aimed at organizational growth, yet it maintains the dedication to the individual growth of the worker.

5. According to Taylor, the main and only motivator for a worker to perform was ‘monetary incentive’. Therefore, he defined the worker under scientific management as an ‘economic man’. Whereas, according to Mayo, the sense of acceptance and satisfaction of social wants of the workers like communication was the driving force of the organization. Therefore, the worker according to Mayo was a ‘social man’.

6. The Scientific School of thought treated the worker as a ‘human machine’ and used a differential system for motivation. The Behaviorist School of thought held that the satisfaction of the worker was its main objective. According to the human relations movement, “satisfied workers are motivated workers and therefore effective workers”.

By comparing both the Scientific and Behaviorist school of thought we come to know that both the principles aim towards achieving more productivity, through different approach. But both seem to focus on organization excellence and believe in employee motivation through their own unique ways. Their techniques may be opposing each other but their ultimate goal is same i.e. attaining productivity.


In order to be successful, an organization has to look on both the aspects of work, i.e. being effective and efficient. From Taylor’s Scientific School of thought we learn the unique approach applied in order to increase efficiency hence increasing overall productivity. Various theories were applied in achieving the goal. The scientific school of thought also taught us how to motivate employee to perform better, which was by introducing incentives, which is a great approach to increase productivity, but if the employee’s mental satisfaction, work environment, and social aspects are not taken into consideration and ignored, the firm cannot prove to be effective. Therefore employee’s mental satisfaction at work, healthy environment to perform and a good social environment are also necessary to achieve better productivity or becoming effective in work which we learn through behaviorist school of thought of Elton Mayo who performed several experiments at Hawthorne and came to the conclusion of behavioral motivation.

Thus, we come to the conclusion that, to be as a whole effective and efficient, a firm must take into consideration both the aspects, i.e. the scientific as well as behavioral management techniques, in order to attain maximum production. Therefore both the Scientific school as well as Behavioral school of thought if properly analyzed cater to productivity and add to organizational excellence and employee motivation. In today’s business world, a smart manager is oine who tries to imply both the management techniques keeping in mind the pro’s and con’s

Order Now

Type of Paper
Number of Pages
(275 words)