Sample Material of Public Administration Study Kit (Paper -
Chapter II - Administrative Thought: Scientific Management
and Scientific Management movement
Meaning Although the origin of the terms ‘scientific
management’ is contributed to L. D. Brandies (who is believed to have used in
the U.S.A. in 1910), the philosophy as such owes its origin to F. W. Taylor. He
has defined scientific management as “the art of knowing exactly what you want
to do and the seeing that they do it in the best and cheapest way.”
The term ‘scientific management’ implies the application of
science to the management of a business concern. It aims at replacement of
traditional techniques by scientific techniques. According to Harlow Person,
“The term ‘scientific management’ characterizes that form organisation and
procedure in purposive collective efforts which rest on principles or laws
derived by the process of scientific investigation and analysis, instead of any
tradition or a policy determined imperially and casually by the process of trial
and error.” According to Frederic Taylor, “Scientific management is the
substitution of exact scientific investigations and knowledge for the old
individual judgement or opinion, and either of the workmen or the boss, in all
matters relating to the work done in the shop.”
Scientific management is a thoughtful and systematic approach
to the job of management as contrasted with hit or miss rule of thumb. It
stressed rationality, predictability, specialization and technical competence.
It concentrated on the design an operation on production processes on the ‘shop’
level of the organisation. “Scientific management”, according to Taylor,
included finding the most efficient methods of production, scientific selection
and training of workers, proper allotment of duties and work and achieving
cooperation between workers and management.” AIMS of Scientific Management
The aims of Scientific management may be summarised under:
- Increased production: Increase in the rate of production by use of
standardized tools, equipment and methods.
- Quality control: Improvement in the quality of the output by research,
quality control and inspection devices.
- Cost reduction: Reduction in the cost of production b rational planning
and regulation and cost control techniques.
- Elimination of wastes: Elimination of wastes in the use of resources,
and methods of manufacturing.
- Right men for right wastes: Elimination of wastes in the use of
resources, and methods of manufacturing.
- Right men for right work: Placement of the right person on the right job
through scientific selection to the efficiency of the workers.
Philosophical Base of Scientific Management
The Scientific Management school is primary attributed to the
ideas of Frederick W. Taylor (1856-1915), who is known as ‘the father of
scientific management’. Some of the other notable contributors to this school
are Frank and Lillian Gilberth, Henry L. Grantt, and Harrington Emerson.
In the formulation and development of the scientific approach
to management, the name of Charles Babbage (1792-1871) of England cannot be
ignored. He had a highly developed and remarkable capacity for intellectual
analysis which enabled him to suggest solutions to industrial problems, and
help evolve the science of business management. He should justify be styled as
one of pioneers of scientific management.
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Principle of Scientific Management
Taylor’s contribution to the development of scientific
management was recorded in his papers. They are: A Piece Rate System (1985);
Shop Management (1903); The Art of Cutting Metals (1895); The Principle of
Scientific Management (1911). In these papers his main thesis was that all work
processes are separable into unit; the efficiency of each unit can be tested and
improved; the technique can be extended upwards in a management so that at last
whole business establishment and governments, even whole societies, may be made
more rational and efficient. Taylor had little doubt that once the best working
procedure was taught to a worker and his pay was tied to his output, he could be
induced to produce the maximum physically possible as calculated by the time and
motion engineers. Taylor laid down that the main objective of management “should
be the secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum
prosperity of each employed.” He hoped that rational explanations could ensure
wholehearted co-operation between management and workers. He was well aware of
systematic restriction of output by the workers, but believed it was simply due
to lack of understanding which could be removed by a rational scheme founded on
four basic principles. First, a true science of work, based on observation and
measurement, as regards the fair quantum of day’s work by the worker must be
developed. Second, the methods of scientific selection, proper training and
placement of the worker to the task to which he is best suited must be adopted.
Third, the bringing together of the science of work and the scientifically
selected and trained men so that the employee could have the opportunity of
earning a high rate of pay, while the employer could obtain a lost cost of
production. An d finally, the constant and willing co-operation between the
employer and employees to achieve the benefits of scientific management should
The philosophy of these principles may be summarised as under:
- Science, not rule of thumb;
- Harmony, not discord;
- Co-operation, not individualism;
- Working for maximum output, rather than restricted output; and
- Developing all workers to the fullest extent possible for their own and
their company’s highest prosperity.
The basic idea behind the principles of scientific management is to change
the mental attitudes of the workers and the management towards each-other.
Taylor called it ‘mental revolution’.
Taylor rejected the idea of traditional type of authority of
military style of management based on unitary control, where the worker received
orders from one of man, the foreman. Instead of the conventional type of
organisation, he preferred the adoption of the principle of functional
management (authority). He believed that the greatest efficiency should be
achieved only by dividing work into its component parts and training men to a
very high performance level. He proposed that under the system of functional
management, every production worker would have eight bosses, each o whom would
give order in his functional specially. The worker would get separate order from
gang boss, speed boss, inspector, repair boss, work and route clerk, instruction
and clerk, time and cost clerk and shop disciplinarian. Thus, Taylor argued that
“the work of each man in the management should be confined to the performance of
a single leading function”, and pleaded that the principle of specialization was
no less appropriate at higher levels than it was at the lowest level. This was
Taylor ’s functional management, his best known contribution to management
The Exception Principle
Taylor also advocated the exception principle. According to
this concept, decisions which recur frequently should be reduced to a routine
and delegated to subordinates, leaving more important issue and exceptional
matters to superiors. The reports going up to higher managers should be
streamlined so that they need only look at the exceptions, cases better or worse
than the average. The relieving of higher executives from details allows them
more time to devote to top policy and to crisis that arise.
The essence of Taylorism remained the search for efficient
operations in the individual mechanical process or in the single industrial
plant, thereby making time and motion study “the chief corner-stone of
scientific management”. Under names like work study, O & M, and production
engineering, his techniques have provided a foundation for modern mass
production methods in the factory in the office. He believed that every job, no
matter how simple, could be improved by study and the application of scientific
techniques. It is true that Taylor’s work centred on the shop. However, for him
the principles of workshop were the principles of management for all types of
According to him, “The same principles can be applied with
force to all social activities; to the management of our homes, the management
of our farms; the management of business of our tradesmen—large and small; of
our churches, of our philanthropic institutors; our universities and our
Advantages of Scientific Management
Taylor’s contribution has two dimensions: Mechanical and
Philosophical. On the mechanical side Taylor introduced time and motion studies,
standardization of tools, methods and working condition, differential piece rate
system for the payment of wages etc. On the philosophical side, he tried to
develop the science of management based on systematic investigation and
- Replacement of traditional rule of thumb method by scientific techniques
for each element of man’s work.
- Proper selection and training of the workers.
- Establishment of harmonious relationship workers and the management.
- Achievement of equal division of responsibilities between the workers
and the management.
- Standaridisation of tools, equipments, materials and work methods.
- Detailed instruction and constant guiding for the workers.
- Incentive wages to the workers for higher production.
- Elimination of wastes and rationalization of system of control.
- Satisfaction of needs of the customers by providing high quality
products and lower prices.
- Better utilization of various products and lower prices.
Criticism of Scientific Management Worker’s Viewpoints
Speeding up of workers: Workers feels that
scientific management has the purpose to force them to work their maximum
and its does not bother about the adverse effect of such speeding up on the
physical mental well-being of the workers.
Boredom: Scientific management introduced
specialization in the enterprise. The workers are supposed to do the routine
work just like automatic machine. This creates the problem of monotony among
the workers who start looking for jobs in other organisation.
- No scope for initiative: Science there is divorce between the
function of planning and doing, the workers get no opportunity to innovating
- Unemployment: Science the output per worker in increased, there will be
a reduction in the employment opportunities.
- Explanation of workers: Workers feel that their wages do not rise
in the same proportion in which their productivity rises.
Destroying collecting bargaining: The trade unions
were again the modern methods of increasing output by the introduction of
the premium bonus system. The labour leaders considered Taylorism as not
only destroying trade unionism but also destroying the principle of
1.Expensive: The introduction of scientific management
is quite expensive because it is necessary to incur high amounts of money on
standardizing methods of money of standardizing method of work, working
conditions and tools and equipment. Moreover, a separate planning department has
to be created which does not make any direct contribution to the production
2.Re-organisation: Scientific management involves
reorganization of he whole industrial unit. During the transitional phase, the
work is to be stopped and management has to suffer great loss due to
1. Mechanical approach: It is said that scientific management adopts
the mechanical approach towards the workers. The workers have to follow the way
of doing the job as directed by the management.
2. Lack of proper motivation: Under scientific
management, wages are paid to the workers according to the piece wage system.
There is no minimum wage assured to the workers. This mean that Taylor assumed
that money is the greatest motivating force. There are other factors also which
motivate the people. Some security, recognition, etc.
3. Speeding up of workers: Scientific management has
the impact of increasing the speed of work. It does not take into consideration
the harmful effects of such speeding up on the physical and mental health of the
Trade union’s opposition to Taylorism led to an investigation
conduced by Robert Hoxie for the United State Commission on Industrial
Relations. Professor Hoxie in his report critised Taylor’s scientific management
and Taylor’s approach as they are concerned only with mechanical aspects and not
with the human aspects of production. Among other who criticized scientific
management include Oliver Sheldon, Mary Parker Follet, Elton Mayo and Peter
Drucker. They charged that scientific management was impersonal and under
emphasized the human factor. Behaviourists charged that Taylor’s methods of
scientific management scarifies the initiative of the worker, his individual
freedom and the use of his intelligence and responsibility. Herbert Simon and
March have described the scientific management as the ‘physiological
The Impact of Scientific Management
Reforms such as the centralization of
administrative/executive authority and accountability, the establishment of
merit systems and the elimination of partisan politics from the day-to-day
conduct of Public Administration blended easily with scientific management’s
Between 1920-1930 scientific management concepts were
accepted throughout the community of professional administrators and scholars of
Public Administration. Even as late as 1948 Dwight Waldo observed: “Perhaps the
most important of the theoretical movements now influencing American study is
scientific management. At the level of technique or procedure, borrowing from
and liaison with scientific management. At the level of technique or procedure,
borrowing from and liaison with scientific management will undoubtedly
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