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Would Principles of Scientific Management

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Scientific Management as proposed by F. W. Taylor is a method based on a time and motion technique which have actually been divided into steps which helps in determining how fast a particular job can be performed and to the identification and elimination of all practices which leads to the wastages of time. The basic ingredients of time and motion technique begin with a stop watch as an input while the output consisting of an instruction sheet containing exact sequence of operations necessary for the work with exact time the same has to be completed (Klaw, 1979).

The management theory suggests for every man in an organization is like one of a train of gear wheels (Haber, 1964:24) and it is these workers who are responsible for the production of a part of the complete product. The development process has to be subdivided into various sections with each section responsible for a part of the whole product rather than the whole product and at the same time various automation techniques are being introduced so that workers can be assigned to single task while external supervisors were meant for the purpose of control. (Miller, 2002).

Now we take up the case of Timbuk2. The company headed by Rob Honeycutt followed the way through which Toyota used to produce cars after implementing the use of Toyota Sewing System. The procedure gets unfolded with the product development process has been subdivided into various phases with output of each phase being the input of next phase.

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A particular operator has the responsibility of a portion of the complete product and once he or she finishes its job, the output is being moved on to the next operator who performs the next operation. Hence in principle this product development process of bags for bike messenger services in Timbuk2 represents a very ideal case for possible implementation of Scientific Management Principle. Since the management policy targets starts with the grass root level with workers doing repetitive jobs. In Timbak2 similar policies are being followed. The company has been very active in obtaining new technology and modifying production techniques. Now looking into what Scientific Management suggest the states that a worker in a repetitive job is more interested in just achieving the minimum required target.

He is not at all concerned with the term productivity and growth of the firm and is more of less involves itself just to the domain he or she is actually. To get over these problems, Taylor proposed many concepts of which some were accepted at the time of proposal only like the case of Ford while others were appreciated later. But still there are a large number of managers or trade unionists who is actually not a believer of Taylor’s Theory. Their point of contention is that it is rarely or better to say not at possible to have identical economic interest for both management and workers.

There is mistrust between workers and managers. Managers are more interested in improving efficiency and overall performance of the firm and consider this as their own responsibility while the worker views every attempt of training and improvement of technology or modernization process as a tactics by the management to reduce work force and extract more work by the reduced number. Workers’ concerns are not baseless. Taylor’s method has automation as the culminating point. By automation, we mean more and more work is to be done by machines and company’s reliance on workforce will considerably get reduced. This will again undermine the interest of the employees and the point from where Taylor’s theory of total prosperity starts, gets lost. Taylor had suggested for regular training of employees to improve productivity. He also made a point that a worker should be given rest breaks to get over fatigue (Taylor, 1911). This will help to get more output with longer duration of inventory utilization. His idea of training and work arrangement has the motive that a worker should be made to think that more work will result more output and finally more payment. But despite having so much novelties and goodness and loads of appreciation from great people like Henry Ford, from the beginning itself the theory was under fire and its applicability has always been a matter of discussion. The theory which was actually meant for improving efficiency and production later faltered and the same became reason of absenteeism and lack of commitment among workers.

Moving on to employee’s contribution in improving the and The company has been able to successfully maintain a very harmonic relationship with

According to Backer, in his paper of 1998, implementation of scientific management gave immediate result with drastic fall in the over all cost of production with more and more product being produced at a much lower price thereby causing great change in the way it was consumed by the masses. But it was on the part of management to implement this concept fully. They lacked in this regard thereby causing unrest among workers causing emergence of trade unionism which Taylor used to hate and workers started going to strikes.

Their causes were genuine because despite having 33% increases in overall production, workers were not given a considerable portion of the additional profit the companies made. The management started comparing their work force with machines and hence the era of low wages despite high performance started. This causes some of the great strikes in American history with one being suffered by US Steel Industry (Baker, 1998). Again it was Taylor’s Principles which received the blame both from the management as well as labor unions.

Later the same principles were accepted by labor unions and were widely respected once better deciphered as beneficial for organized work force because of its clause of maximum prosperity and regular training to meet different production and efficiency targets (Backer, 1998). So finally Taylorism changed the relationship between the management and the workers.

But still it was not considered as the perfect concept. Unorganized and unskilled had to face much of the heat caused by its implementation. They had to go with least of wages. This started making effect on organized sector. The skilled labor can now easily be replaced by easily trainable but unorganized and cheap workforce. And again the method and its goal were criticized in every quarter (Baker, 1998).

Solution given by Taylor through his principles will always be called as a solution with a motive of complete removal of all supposed problems but had to face its share of failures. Spender in a very recent paper made a very good explanation on Taylor’s Solution, its successes and its failures (2006). He stated that new model factory based system of mass production of things through machines with the help of unskilled labor who are no more than operator of those machines was developed by engineers not by capitalists.

These engineers analyzed the whole production process while taking the smallest detail into account. They applied time and motion techniques widely promoted by F. W. Taylor and made steep change in overall efficiency of the whole production process. Though the main motive was to produce more, earn more and give more to the workers but things got awry and because of different goals of management and that of workers, the most critical factor of human resource and social responsibility got subordinated (Rose, 1975:32).

The workers were technically compared with machines and were more in an ox-cart cart situation. The engineers on the basis of Taylor’s method gave prominence to science for research and developed and inventory management so that complete and full fledged prosperity can be achieved. But the workers were just not ready to accept the so called independent stand of those engineers.

Their past experience were good enough to believe that these engineers are proxy agents of the owners and the concept they are applying are nothing but an attempt to maximize the profit of the capitalists and in return the laborers will be awarded with something very meager . Though Taylor repeatedly stated that what ever change is going to happen will be done with nine-tenth in the management while only a very small change is going to b subjected among workers section, but his contention was hardly viewed by Unionist with enough faith. In his principles, Taylor made a deep explanation of the role of foreman.

He used to be most important figure very much equivalent to that of king with power stretching beyond workplace to places outside the factory (Taylor, 1911:51). Top management was very much reliant on these foremen to organize production and was more or less focused on external issues like market share and overall profitability. The addition of new technology and automation restricted the overall status of that of foremen and this was widely appreciated. But with this, Taylor inadvertently provided owners with new means to defeat labor’s interests. The Scientific Management caused shifting planning from execution.

The workers or craftsman had no longer authorized to take any decision and were reduced to the position from where they can only execute rather taking any part in decision making. This again made a felling that the labor are no more than a machine which are only supposed to work and must not utter a single word since all these principles have been implemented after looking into all aspects of their welfare.

But what actually they would get was obscure (Spender, 2006). All this started giving rise to many labor problems which were strong enough to make changes both at the factory level as well as national politics. On giving deep thought it was concluded that the reason were not just the economic backwardness the laborers were facing but also an impression that they will be left behind in this extra fast economic and technological growth.

Again looking with the eyes of Taylor, his principles were not intended to be either labor centric or management centric. His actual wish was to develop a completely new system which would open a new era of adjustment and common objectives for both the parties. But the return of implementing Scientific Management would vary and will get diminished when the firm will take the route of total control through the use of technology but the same will give desirable result in case of un availability of the same (Edwards, 1970:20).

The main reason behind the difference was the wide difference between different industries (Chandler, 1977). The role of foreman got different definition in different industries. Factories with the purpose of mass production were now with foremen with lesser control while the opposite was seen in metallurgical trade (Nelson, 1975:36). The ideology of resolving the conflict between owners and workers by changing the whole concept of work and ownership took a backseat. His method was acclaimed and well adopted and very few implemented or incorporated it as a whole.

And the management who was supposed to be the intelligent part of the system and were considered as the one to enforce Taylor’s principle, failed in proper application of the concept. And another way of creating harmony among workers and the administration got lost. And the reason remained the same i.e. working class and the management cannot have the same objective.

Link – Belt case is a very good example where Taylor’s concept received applause for sorting out the problems between the management and the workers (Nelson, 1992:130). The firm was controlled by some of the ardent supporters of Taylor and his principles of scientific management. The company grew from being a Chicago enterprise manufacturing detachable link-chain for agricultural equipments to an important player in elevating and conveying machinery market (Nelson, 1992:131).

The Principles of Scientific Management was implemented for the first time in the Philadelphia Plant of Link - Belt. It was later adopted in its Chicago Plant. But its implementation also exposed the weaknesses of this principle. The principle was actually implemented during period of recession. The economy was going downswing. So the implementation process was completed without any hassle. But the same workforce, who was nothing more than a silent spectator during the period of recession, started demanding when the firm was under pressure of maintaining its position in the recovered and competitive market.

When deeply examined, in the period 1900 to 1940, it was found that the Link – Belt management actually never made any decision which were fully in accordance with the Taylor’s principle (Nelson, 1992:130). The solution they found involved espionage and then finding the weak link and causing defection in the opposite camp. All these techniques had been denounced by Taylor in his Principle of Scientific management. Actually Link – Belt management never ever tried to achieve industrial peace but insisted on techniques which showed their own lack of faith on this very Principle.

And finally the company which was actually showcased as excellent example of Scientific Management could not find a suitable point in the Taylor’s Principle to tackle rising labour related issues. And thus with the whole purpose of achieving industrial harmony got lost (Nelson, 1992:151).


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