FACTOID # 19: Cheap sloppy joes: Looking for reduced-price lunches for schoolchildren? Head for Oklahoma!
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 


FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:



(* = Graphable)



Encyclopedia > Scientific management

Scientific management (also called Taylorism, the Taylor system, or the Classical Perspective) is a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes workflow processes, improving labor productivity. The core ideas of the theory were developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor in the 1880s and 1890s, and were first published in his monographs, Shop Management (1905) and The Principles of Scientific Management (1911).[1] Taylor believed that decisions based upon tradition and rules of thumb should be replaced by precise procedures developed after careful study of an individual at work. Frederick Winslow Taylor Frederick Winslow Taylor (March 20, 1856 to March 21, 1915) was an American mechanical engineer who sought to improve industrial efficiency. ... A monograph is a scholarly book or a treatise on a single subject or a group of related subjects. ... The Principles of Scientific Management is a monograph published by Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911. ... A rule of thumb is an easily learned and easily applied procedure for approximately calculating or recalling some value, or for making some determination. ...

In management literature today, the greatest use of the concept of Taylorism is as a contrast to a new, improved way of doing business. In political and sociological terms, Taylorism can be seen as the division of labour pushed to its logical extreme, with a consequent de-skilling of the worker and dehumanisation of the workplace. Sociology (from Latin: socius, companion; and the suffix -ology, the study of, from Greek λόγος, lógos, knowledge [1]) is the systematic and scientific study of society, including patterns of social relationships, social action, and culture[2]. Areas studied in sociology can range from the analysis of brief contacts between anonymous...



General approach

  • Developed standard method for performing each job.
  • selected workers with appropriate abilities for each job.
  • trained workers in standard method.
  • supported workers by planning their work and eliminating interruptions.
  • provided wage incentives to workers for increased output.
  • started with the making of cows and there fake meat.
  • 1 hamburger patty has 100's of 1000 different cows, let alone animals.


  • Scientific approach to business management and process improvement
  • Importance of compensation for performance
  • Began the careful study of tasks and jobs
  • Importance of selection criteria


  • Labour is defined and authority/responsibility is legitimised/official
  • Positions placed in hierarchy and under authority of higher level
  • Selection is based upon technical competence, training or experience
  • Actions and decisions are recorded to allow continuity and memory
  • Management is different from ownership of the organization
  • Managers follow rules/procedures to enable reliable/predictable behaviour

Mass production methods

Taylorism is often mentioned along with Fordism, because it was closely associated with mass production methods in manufacturing factories. Taylor's own name for his approach was scientific management. This sort of task-oriented optimisation of work tasks is nearly ubiquitous today in industry, and has made most industrial work menial, repetitive, tedious and depressing; this can be noted, for instance, in assembly lines and fast-food restaurants. Ford's arguments began from his observation that, in general, workers forced to perform repetitive tasks work at the slowest rate that goes unpunished. This slow rate of work (which he called "soldiering", but might nowadays be termed by those in charge as "loafing" or "malingering" or by those on the assembly line as "getting through the day"), he opined, was based on the observation that, when paid the same amount, workers will tend to do the amount of work the slowest among them does: this reflects the idea that workers have a vested interest in their own well-being, and do not benefit from working above the defined rate of work when it will not increase their compensation. He therefore proposed that the work practice that had been developed in most work environments was crafted, intentionally or unintentionally, to be very inefficient in its execution. From this he posited that there was one best method for performing a particular task, and that if it were taught to workers, their productivity would go up. Fordism, named after Henry Ford, has different meanings in the United States and Europe. ... Mass production is the production of large amounts of standardised products on production lines. ... Modern car assembly line. ... For specific discussion of Western fast food chains, see fast food restaurant. ... In classical economics and all micro-economics labour is one of three factors of production, the others being land and capital. ... Look up Punishment in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Taylor introduced many concepts that were not widely accepted at the time. For example, by observing workers, he decided that labour should include rest breaks so that the worker has time to recover from fatigue. He proved this with the task of unloading ore: workers were taught to take rest during work and output went up. For other uses, see Ore (disambiguation). ...

Today's armies employ scientific management. Of the key points listed; a standard method for performing each job, select workers with appropriate abilities for each job, training for standard task, planning work and eliminating interruptions and wage incentive for increased output. All but wage incentives for increased output are used by modern military organizations. Wage incentives rather appear in the form of skill bonuses for enlistments. For other uses, see Army (disambiguation). ...

Division of labour

Unless people manage themselves, somebody has to take care of administration, and thus there is a division of work between workers and administrators. One of the tasks of administration is to select the right person for the right job:

Now one of the very first requirements for a man who is fit to handle pig iron as a regular occupation is that he shall be so stupid and so phlegmatic that he more nearly resembles in his mental make-up the ox than any other type. The man who is mentally alert and intelligent is for this very reason entirely unsuited to what would, for him, be the grinding monotony of work of this character. Therefore the workman who is best suited to handling pig iron is unable to understand the real science of doing this class of work. (Taylor 1911, 59) Two weights used in the theatre and made of pig iron; because of this, they are dubbed pig weights or simply pigs. ...

This view – match the worker to the job – has resurfaced time and time again in management theories.

Extension to "Sales Engineering"

Taylor believed scientific management could be extended to "the work of our salesmen." Shortly after his death, his acolyte Harlow S. Person began to lecture corporate audiences on the possibility of using Taylorism for "sales engineering." (Dawson 2005) This was a watershed insight in the history of corporate marketing. Next big thing redirects here. ...


Applications of scientific management sometimes fail to account for two inherent difficulties:

  • It ignores individual differences: the most efficient way of working for one person may be inefficient for another;
  • It ignores the fact that the economic interests of workers and management are rarely identical, so that both the measurement processes and the retraining required by Taylor's methods would frequently be resented and sometimes sabotaged by the workforce.

Both difficulties were recognised by Taylor, but are generally not fully addressed by managers who only see the potential improvements to efficiency. Taylor believed that scientific management cannot work unless the worker benefits. In his view management should arrange the work in such a way that one is able to produce more and get paid more, by teaching and implementing more efficient procedures for producing a product.

Although Taylor did not compare workers with machines, some of his critics use this metaphor to explain how his approach makes work more efficient by removing unnecessary or wasted effort. However, some would say that this approach ignores the complications introduced because workers are necessarily human: personal needs, interpersonal difficulties and the very real difficulties introduced by making jobs so efficient that workers have no time to relax. As a result, workers worked harder, but became dissatisfied with the work environment. Some have argued that this discounting of worker personalities led to the rise of labour unions. This article is about devices that perform tasks. ... A union (labor union in American English; trade union, sometimes trades union, in British English; either labour union or trade union in Canadian English) is a legal entity consisting of employees or workers having a common interest, such as all the assembly workers for one employer, or all the workers...

It can also be said that the rise in labour unions is leading to a push on the part of industry to accelerate the process of automation, a process that is undergoing a renaissance with the invention of a host of new technologies starting with the computer and the Internet. This shift in production to machines was clearly one of the goals of Taylorism, and represents a victory for his theories. This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

However, tactfully choosing to ignore the still controversial process of automating human work is also politically expedient, so many still say that practical problems caused by Taylorism led to its replacement by the human relations school of management in 1930. Others (Braverman 1974) insisted that human relations did not replace Taylorism but that both approaches are rather complementary: Taylorism determining the actual organisation of the work process and human relations helping to adapt the workers to the new procedures. Though human resources have been part of business and organisations since the first days of agriculture, the modern concept of human resources began in reaction to the efficiency focus of Taylorism in the early 1900s. ...

However, Taylor's theories were clearly at the roots of a global revival in theories of scientific management in the last two decades of the 20th century, under the moniker of 'corporate reengineering'. As such, Taylor's ideas can be seen as the root of a very influential series of developments in the workplace, with the goal being the eventual elimination of industry's need for unskilled, and later perhaps, even most skilled labour in any form, directly following Taylor's recipe for deconstructing a process. This has come to be known as commodification, and no skilled profession, even medicine, has proven to be immune from the efforts of Taylor's followers, the 'reengineers', who are often called derogatory names such as 'bean counters'. This article is about reengineering business processes. ... Commodification (or commoditization) is the transformation of goods and services into a commodity. ...


Scientific management was an early attempt to systematically treat management and process improvement as a scientific problem. With the advancement of statistical methods, the approach was improved and referred to as quality control in 1920s and 1930s. During the 1940s and 1950s, the body of knowledge for doing scientific management evolved into Operations Research and management cybernetics. In the 1980s there was total quality management, in the 1990s reengineering. Today's Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing could be seen as new kinds of scientific management, though their principles vary so drastically that the comparison might be misleading. In particular, Shigeo Shingo, one of the originators of the Toyota Production System that this system and Japanese management culture in general should be seen as kind of scientific management.[citation needed] For the Jurassic 5 album, see Quality Control (album) In engineering and manufacturing, quality control and quality engineering are involved in developing systems to ensure products or services are designed and produced to meet or exceed customer requirements. ... Operations Research or Operational Research (OR) is an interdisciplinary branch of mathematics which uses methods like mathematical modeling, statistics, and algorithms to arrive at optimal or good decisions in complex problems which are concerned with optimizing the maxima (profit, faster assembly line, greater crop yield, higher bandwidth, etc) or minima... For other uses, see Cybernetics (disambiguation). ... Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management strategy aimed at embedding awareness of quality in all organizational processes. ... The often-used six sigma symbol. ... Lean manufacturing is the production of goods using less of everything compared to mass production: less human effort, less manufacturing space, less investment in tools, and less engineering time to develop a new product. ... Shigeo Shingo , 1909-1990), born in Saga City, Japan, was a Japanese industrial engineer who distinguished himself as one of the world’s leading experts on manufacturing practices and The Toyota Production System. ... The Toyota Production System (TPS) (トヨタ生産方式) is the philosophy which organizes manufacturing and logistics at Toyota, including the interaction with suppliers and customers. ... The culture of Japanese management so famous in the West is generally limited to Japans large corporations. ...

Peter Drucker saw Frederick Taylor as the creator of knowledge management, as the aim of scientific management is to produce knowledge about how to improve work processes. Although some have questioned whether scientific management is suitable only for manufacturing, Taylor himself advocated scientific management for all sorts of work, including the management of universities and government. Peter Ferdinand Drucker (November 19, 1909–November 11, 2005) was a writer, management consultant and university professor. ... Knowledge Management (KM) comprises a range of practices used by organisations to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge. ...

Scientific management has had an important influence in sports, where stop watches and motion studies rule the day. (Taylor himself enjoyed sports –especially tennis and golf – and he invented improved tennis racquets and improved golf clubs, although other players liked to tease him for his unorthodox designs, and they did not catch on as replacements for the mainstream implements.)

Scientific management and the Soviet Union

Historian Thomas Hughes (Hughes 2004) has detailed the way in which the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s enthusiastically embraced Fordism and Taylorism, importing American experts in both fields as well as American engineering firms to build parts of its new industrial infrastructure. The concepts of the Five Year Plan and the centrally planned economy can be traced directly to the influence of Taylorism on Soviet thinking. Hughes quotes Stalin: Thomas Parke Hughes is Mellon Professor of the History and Sociology of Science, Emeritus, at the University of Pennsylvania, and Visiting Professor at MIT and Stanford University. ... Five-Year Plans or Piatiletkas (пятилетка) were a series of nation-wide centralized exercises in rapid economic development in the Soviet Union. ... This article refers to an economy controlled by the state. ... Iosif (usually anglicized as Joseph) Vissarionovich Stalin (Russian: Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин), original name Ioseb Jughashvili (Georgian: იოსებ ჯუღაშვილი; see Other names section) (December 21, 1879[1] – March 5, 1953) was a Bolshevik revolutionary and leader of the Soviet Union. ...

American efficiency is that indomitable force which neither knows nor recognises obstacles; which continues on a task once started until it is finished, even if it is a minor task; and without which serious constructive work is impossible . . . The combination of the Russian revolutionary sweep with American efficiency is the essence of Leninism. (Hughes 2004: 251 – quoting Stalin 1976: 115)

Hughes offers this equation to describe what happened: Vladimir Lenin in 1920 Leninism refers to various related political and economic theories elaborated by Bolshevik revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin, and by other theorists who claim to be carrying on Lenins work. ...

Taylorismus + Fordismus = Amerikanismus

Hughes describes how, as the Soviet Union developed and grew in power, both sides, the Soviets and the Americans, chose to ignore or deny the contribution that American ideas and expertise had had – the Soviets because they wished to portray themselves as creators of their own destiny and not indebted to a rival, and the Americans because they did not wish to acknowledge their part in creating a powerful rival.

See also

Fordism, named after Henry Ford, has different meanings in the United States and Europe. ... Division of labour is the specialisation of cooperative labour in specific, circumscribed tasks and roles, intended to increase efficiency of output. ... The Hawthorne effect refers to a phenomenon of observing workers behavior or their performance and changing it temporarily. ... Benjamin S. Graham, Sr. ... Lillian Moller Gilbreth (1878-1972) in 1921 Lillian Moller Gilbreth, BA MA Ph. ... Frank Bunker Gilbreth (July 7, 1868-June 14, 1924), born in Fairfield, Maine, was a proponent of Taylorism and a pioneer of time-motion studies. ... This article needs to be wikified. ... This series details the consequences (often dangerous) of political and technocratic rationality, especially when used to crush common sense and a clear reporting of the facts. ... Adam Curtis at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2005 Adam Curtis (born 1955) is a British television documentary producer. ... The Principles of Scientific Management is a monograph published by Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911. ... The Secret Life of Machines is a television series created by Tim Hunkin and presented by himself and Rex Garrod. ... Tim Hunkin (born 1950) is an English engineer, cartoonist, writer, and artist living in Suffolk, England. ...


  1. ^ Frederick Winslow Taylor (1911). The Principles of Scientific Management. Harper & Brothers. Free book hosted online by Eldritch Press.
  • Hugh G. J. Aitken, Scientific Management in Action: Taylorism at Watertown Arsenal, 1908-1915, Princeton University Press, Reprint 1985
  • Braverman, Harry, 1974, Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century, New York 1974, New Edition: Monthly Review Press, New York 1998, ISBN 0853459401
  • Dawson, Michael (2005). The Consumer Trap: Big Business Marketing in American Life, paper, Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-07264-2. 
  • Head, Simon : The New Ruthless Economy. Work and Power in the Digital Age, Oxford UP 2005 - Head analyzes current implementations of Taylorism not only at the assembly line, but also in the offices and in medicine ("managed care"), ISBN 0195179838
  • Hughes, Thomas P., 2004 American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm 1870-1970. 2nd ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0226359271
  • Robert Kanigel, 1999 The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency, Penguin, ISBN 0-14-026080-3
  • Stalin, J. V. (1976) Problems of Leninism, Lectures Delivered at the Sverdlov University Foreign Languages Press, Peking

Frederick Winslow Taylor Frederick Winslow Taylor (March 20, 1856 to March 21, 1915) was an American mechanical engineer who sought to improve industrial efficiency. ... Group portrait of the four Harper brothers by Mathew Brady, ca. ... Watertown Arsenal, building #71 General plan, 1919 The Watertown Arsenal was a major American arsenal located on the northern shore of the Charles River in Watertown, Massachusetts. ... Harry Braverman (1920 – 1976) was an American Communist and political writer. ... Thomas Parke Hughes is Mellon Professor of the History and Sociology of Science, Emeritus, at the University of Pennsylvania, and Visiting Professor at MIT and Stanford University. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Frederick Taylor & Scientific Management (1045 words)
Scientific management methods called for optimizing the way that tasks were performed and simplifying the jobs enough so that workers could be trained to perform their specialized sequence of motions in the one "best" way.
Prior to scientific management, work was performed by skilled craftsmen who had learned their jobs in lengthy apprenticeships.
Scientific management took away much of this autonomy and converted skilled crafts into a series of simplified jobs that could be performed by unskilled workers who easily could be trained for the tasks.
  More results at FactBites »



Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m