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Work Designed And Managed According To The Principles Of Scientific Management Business Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 5464 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This paper compares and contrasts two popular management schools of thought, Scientific Management and the Human Relations Approach. Both methods are designed to maximise business potential through better organisation, but they differ greatly in the way they seek to achieve it. Scientific Management represents an organisation centred approach that is based on improving worker output through optimised technical methods and strict management. The Human Relations Approach focuses on the workers themselves and suggests strong worker relationships, recognition and achievement are motivators for increased productivity (Daft, 2006). This essay will define each management method and consider the main contributors to these schools of thought. It will review several associated theories and how they supported the principles of Scientific Management or the Human Relations Approach. Finally the essay will consider the place of each management method in modern day business before concluding to what extent the Human Relations Approach represents an improvement over the principles of Scientific Management in the design of work and management.

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Scientific Management is the term given to the application of scientific principles to factory or labour intensive work in order to improve efficiency and productivity of the workforce. The ¿½science¿½ in management can be evidenced far back in history. The creation of grand structures such as the Egyptian Great Pyramid, the Great Wall of China; the Roman roads, aqueducts, and Hadrian¿½s Wall all required precision of a scientific nature without computers, calculators or modern measuring equipment (Grimes, 2006). Historically this approach has served industry well and the science of management has been considered by several notable influencers. One contributor to the theory was Adam Smith, who, in the 18th century, proposed specialization as a method for efficiency and documented the merits of dividing labour, separating out tasks and focusing the workers on these tasks (Grimes, 2006). One of the greatest influences on management theory during the 20th century was Fredrick Winslow Taylor, who, aided by his book ¿½Principles of Scientific Management¿½ (1911) popularised the scientific approach to such a degree he earned the title father of scientific management (Daft, 2006).

Taylor performed groundbreaking studies in an effort to improve workplace productivity. He believed that workers were incapable of managing themselves and productivity could only be achieved if a more intelligent man (the manager) directed their every move. In doing so he removed all responsibility for the design and planning of work from those who perform it, and placed it in the hands of the managers whose role was focused on extracting the maximum effort from the worker. Taylor believed managers placed too much emphasis on productivity and not enough on the processes by which the work was done and this led to wastage in human effort. Taylor performed a series of studies scrutinising workers to discover the most efficient techniques (Freedman, 1992).

In one study, Taylor analysed the efficiency of shovelling. In addition to worker technique, optimum shovel loads were calculated and shovels were redesigned for each material. Workers could now shift greater loads for a longer duration with less fatigue. This ¿½Science of Shovelling¿½ allowed for a dramatic reduction in factory staff whilst maintaining productivity (NetMBA.com, 2000). Productivity may have been increased, but at the expense of the employees. In contrast to the Human Relations Approach there was practically no regard for the employees themselves. Taylor¿½s principles of Scientific Management had replaced skilled labour with unskilled labour and workers were selected on strength, speed and not much else (Taylor, 1911). Where the Human Relations approach promotes employee empowerment, the scientific approach reduces the employee to a series of repetitive tasks and strips them of any sense of worth (Taylor, 1911).

Despite the disregard for the worker, the timing of Taylor¿½s principles of Scientific Management was perfect. Large manufacturing businesses such as Ford and General Motors were experiencing rapid expansion and were looking to management methods to increase output and focus the efficiency of their workers. Many of Taylor¿½s principles were adopted in factory production and throughout the 20th century the application of scientific principles had a marked affect on productivity. Ironically, as a result of increased production, the general standard of living improved and so did worker dissatisfaction with the method. Union-management and a popular interest in the ¿½human factor¿½ (by behavioural scientists) resulted in a productivity slowdown. This prompted organisations to relocate their work force to developing countries with cheaper labour, a mirror of the original conditions that allowed scientific management to thrive in the west (Oman, 2000). Organisations were now looking to new management methods to satisfy the increasing needs of their workforce and regain productivity and many found it in the form of the Human Relations Approach (Wilson 1990).

The Human Relations Approach represents a significant departure from the automated and dehumanized approach of Scientific Management. Where Scientific Management concentrates on technique and output, the Human Relations Approach focuses on the individual and organisational change through human interactions (Baldridge 1972). It challenges the concept of managers think and workers do and places teamwork and motivation at the heart of any productive organisation (Daft 2006).

An early contributor to Human-Relations theory is Mary Parker Follett who added a humanistic dimension to the study of organisations. Follet placed more value on people rather than techniques and believed that organisations had a social responsibility to their workers. Many of her ideas on conflict resolution, inclusivity and worker empowerment continue to be used in modern management today (Tonn 2003). Another contributor to the theory was Chester Barnard who believed organisations were systems of co-ordinated human activity. Barnard had an alternative view to the Scientific Management perspective of a manager as someone who gives orders. Instead, Barnard believed in the manager as a leader whose role was to promote workplace harmony and ensure the workforce cooperated productively (Hoopes, 2002). The person most associated with the Human Relations Approach is Elton Mayo, a Harvard University professor. In the 1920s Mayo was performing a series of studies called the Hawthorn Studies. The results of these studies challenged the principles of Scientific Management and marked the beginning of the Human Relations Movement (from which we derive the Human Relations Approach) (Grimes 2006).

The Hawthorn Studies (named after the factory where they took place) investigated a variety of working conditions and their effect on productivity. One of these studies, the Relay Assembly Test Room, focused on a small group (referred to as a primary working group) consisting of six women. The group¿½s productivity was monitored under a multitude of changing conditions and the studies revealed that output generally increased whenever a variable was altered. This was regardless of whether the variable adjustment was positive or negative. It was concluded that the size of the group itself had played a factor in the improvement. It appeared the group had developed the ability to self-motivate (Anonymous, 2007: Section 3). It was also suggested that the study itself had contributed to the increase. This phenomenon has come to be known as the Hawthorn Effect where productivity improves if a group or individual perceives they are receiving interest from management (Daft, 2006). The Bank Wiring Observation Room Study, revealed that a normal working group (this time there were fifteen people) falsified output records, opposed management change and deliberately engaged in ¿½soldiering¿½, inhibiting their production and output to avoid increased productivity targets (Anonymous, 2007: Section 3).

The Hawthorne Studies popularised the Human Relations Movement and the results of their discoveries can be seen in modern management. Many of today¿½s successful organisations have efficiently implemented primary working groups (more commonly referred to as teams) and moved away from the larger normal working groups. Effective managers are more like leaders who facilitate a two-way channel between the upper and lower levels in the organisation and managers more actively demonstrate interest in their teams through regular employee reviews and appraisals. This Human Relations approach to the design of work and management benefits both the organisation and the employee through a better understanding of collective goals, concerns and ideas. Employees are more than simple machines set to perform mechanical tasks; they are the organisations¿½ best hope for success. The business environment is changing. The Industrial era has given way to what economic expert Charles Goldfinger refers to as an intangible economy where knowledge, brand and ideas are traded (Highdeal, 2002). In this new economy the potential of the employee is an organisation¿½s greatest asset and ¿½tapping in¿½ to this potential is a major concern. Employees must be encouraged to achieve their maximum and motivation is the key.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow produced a theory of motivation based on studies into human behaviour. His Hierarchy of Needs focused on basic needs inherent to all individuals and arranged them by importance in the order of physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, self-actualisation. The theory suggested that each need must be satisfied before the following need becomes a motivation. At the most basic level are the physiological needs required to sustain life, such as the need to eat food. Following this, we all desire to be safe and secure (Grimes 2006). The Scientific Management approach to worker job design only fulfils these two basic needs. In fact, it plays on them, for workers at the time had no further motivation available to them and tolerated the restricted and monotonous working conditions so they could provide food and shelter to themselves and their families. The Human Relations Approach to worker job design continues to address Maslow¿½s theory of needs and picks up where the scientific approach leaves off. The emphasis on social groups satisfies the love and belonging and improves production through increased employee output. The esteem need is satisfied by a more attentive management approach (or the Hawthorn Effect). Finally, self-actualisation is accomplished through the setting and achieving of personal goals that represent improvement and progression for the worker and the business (Grimes 2006).

Frederick Herzberg, a major influence in modern motivation theory and creator of the Motivator-Hygiene theory. Herzberg suggests:

¿½The growth or motivator factors that are intrinsic to the job are: achievement, recognition for achievement, the work itself, responsibility and growth of advancement. The dissatisfaction-avoidance or hygiene … factors that are extrinsic to the job include: company policy and administration, supervision, interpersonal relationships, working conditions, salary, status and security.¿½

(Herzberg, 1987: 9)

It is interesting to note that the dissatisfaction factors echo the core principles of Scientific Management. These include supervision (by managers), working conditions, salary (wage incentives) and status (managers are superior to workers).

The research referenced by Hertzberg is shown in Appendix A. The diagram shows the composite results of research involving 1,685 employees in a variety of different careers over 12 different investigations. Clearly, motivation is a key contributor to employee job satisfaction in present day business and should be considered in the design of work and management of staff. The principles of Scientific Management consider the incentive of salary as a sole motivator which, according to the diagram in Appendix A, represents only a small area of modern day motivation (Hertzberg 1987).

So if workers are motivated, appreciated and rewarded, and if they are given opportunity, responsibility and recognition, will they really innovate and become more productive? Does a Human Relations Approach to job design really demonstrate an improvement over job design based on the principles of Scientific Management? The answers can be found in the workplace practices of some of the most successful businesses today that have employed the Human Relations Approach to stunning effect.

Only 9 years ago Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Stanford University graduates started Google in a garage (Raphael, 2003). Now Google boasts a global collection of sales and engineering offices and over 6,800 employees (Carr, 2006). Page and Brin don¿½t just buy into the concept that a better workforce management means better business, they actively preach it. One employee states “Larry and Sergey are sometimes more interested in the people here than the product.” When recruiting they seek out team players and ensure a suite of benefits immediately await those they employee (Raphael, 2003). Fortune magazine lists Google as number 1 in their 100 Best Companies to Work For 2007 and lists a few of the many benefits including “free meals, swimming spa, and free doctors onsite” (CNN Money.com 2007). Google gets approximately 1,300 r¿½sum¿½s a day but still has trouble finding the right staff (CNN Money.com, 2007). You need brains, motivation and great ideas to get a job at Google but in return you receive flexibility, appreciation and absolute trust to fulfill your job in the way you feel best. Google¿½s revenue was $6,138 million in 2005, it dominates cyberspace and is now a serious competitor to Microsoft (CNN Money.com, 2007).

Another of Fortune magazine¿½s 100 Best Companies to Work For is Starbucks Coffee. Starbucks (2007) has ¿½always figured that putting people before products just made good common sense.¿½ Their mission statement lists six guiding principles most of which re-enforce their Human Relations Approach. Top of the list is their desire to ¿½Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.¿½ (2007). Employees are referred to as ¿½Partners¿½ and are offered a range of benefits including bonuses, health coverage, tuition fees, a share option scheme and significant discounts (Starbucks 2006). Starbucks also believes in promotion and recruiting from within. This combination of factors results in a staff turnover of just 15% as opposed to competitors 30%. All ¿½partners¿½, regardless of rank are encouraged to spend time in store. Gordon Lyle, UK HR director at Starbucks claims to have spent three months on the shop floor (Personneltoday.com 2007). This is a far cry from the principles of Scientific Management which promoted a clear division between management and worker.

The business environment has changed significantly since the principles of Scientific Management were first implemented. Arguably, the principles were successfully applied to large scale, labour heavy, manufacturing but the manufacturing industry now produces shorter product runs with an ever changing variation of products. In addition, precision machinery now performs many of the tasks that used to be accomplished by the worker assembly line. It is possible that factory-based industries may benefit from the control and predictability of a standardised, procedure-based system but changes in legislation, worker rights and social influence all demand a more Human Relations Approach.

The principles of Scientific Management are outdated. This became evident in the 1980s when General Motors lost significant market share. The loss was blamed on outdated management methods yet these were the same methods that contributed to the success of General Motors when they so readily adopted the principles of Scientific Management some fifty years previously. As a consequence, General Motors had to undertake a critical reorganisation and management was replaced by a new team with a fresher approach (Oman, 2000).

Modern management can no longer focus solely on the organisation. Improvements in the standard of living and more plentiful job markets mean that employees are less concerned about job loss. If their needs are not met, they are more likely to change their job, leaving the organisation and taking their ¿½potential¿½ with them. It is no longer enough to believe that motivation is dependent on the ¿½carrot¿½ of performance-based salary incentives or that productivity is dependent on aggressive management and direction. Employees are now seeking other levels of reward within their roles. Achievement, advancement and responsibility represent core needs and elements of these must be built into the design of work and management. Modern organisations, such as Starbucks, have proved these concepts to be true and demonstrate contented staff and happier customers.

Organisations now operate in a new Intangible Economy that relies on an entirely different set of production factors including worker knowledge, teamwork, positive input, innovation and speed to market (Wikipedia, 2007). Google has dominated cyberspace by realising the importance of these fundamental concepts and implementing a workplace culture to support them. Taylor stated ¿½¿½the best management is a true science, resting upon clearly defined laws, rules, and principles¿½¿½ (1911) but in today¿½s business climate it is proved that a more humanistic approach can produce superior results.

There are many success stories where modern businesses have strategically implemented the Human Relations Approach to great advantage, but modern business is not the reason for its success. The Human Relations Approach is not reliant on social, political or economic climate; its roots are embedded in a clear understanding of the human psyche, what motivates us, compels us and satisfies our needs. The principles of Scientific Management had no reference to these needs and can therefore never satisfy or motivate the workforce to the same degree. From this we can conclude that the Human Relations Approach to the design of work and management of people represents a significant improvement over work designed and managed according to the principles of Scientific Management.


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Compare And Contrast The Management Theories Of Frederick Taylor, Henri Fayol, Elton Mayo And Douglas Mcgregor. In What Sense(S) Are These Theories Similar And/Or Compatible? In What Sense(S) Are These Theories Dissimilar And/Or Compatible? How Wo…


Since the end of the 19th century, when factory manufacturing became widespread and the size of organisations increased, people have been looking for ways to motivate employees and improve productivity. A need for management ideas arise which lead to classical contributors such as Frederick Taylor and Henri Fayol generating management theories such as Taylor¿½ Scientific Management and Fayol¿½s Administrative Management. In the late 1920¿½s and early 1930¿½s the Hawthorne studies were conducted where Elton Mayo was the predominate figure and contributed to the Behavioural viewpoint. This brought about a Human Relations Movement which included Douglas McGregor¿½s Theory X and Theory Y approach. Similarities and differences can be found between the theories due to the relevant time period they were implemented, the motives or goal of the theory and how they view organisations. However the use of contingency theory can help negate the dissimilarities which occur as it allows the relevant elements from each theory to be applied to specific situations.

Frederick Taylor vs. Henri Fayol

Frederick Taylor and Henri Fayol are both considered classical contributors to management theory. Both were developing and expression their viewpoints at similar time period with the aim of ¿½raising standard of management in industry¿½ (Brodie,1967, p7) in a period were very few publications and theories on management. While both theories were developed with the same influencing factors such as war, social struggles and industrial revolution (Urwick. 1951, p7) each developed quite different management theories. Frederick Taylor is considered the Father of Scientific management and he developed scientific principles of management, focusing on the individual, rather than the team and aimed to improve efficiency through production-line time studies, breaking each job down into its components and designing the quickest and best methods of performing each component. When implementing his ideas he looked individually at each worker to tailor to their intelligence, background and abilities. For example Taylor considered ¿½the most important object of both the workmen and the management should be the training and development of each individual¿½ (Taylor, 1947, p 12) and when applying his theory at Bethlehem Steel with the pig-iron handlers, ¿½one man after another was picked out and trained¿½ (Taylor,1947, p47) on and individual level. In contrast Henri Fayol¿½s Administrative theory ¿½focused on the total organization rather than the individual worker, delineating the management functions of planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling.” (Daft, 2000, p.48). While Scientific management and Administrative management are both from the classical era Taylor focuses more on the individual then Fayol does.

Frederick Taylor vs. Elton Mayo

Elton Mayo is part of the Human Relation Movements and most of his work is based on a series of social experiments known as the Hawthorne Studies. Both Taylor and Mayo theories focus on the individual and have similar goals for their theory such as ways to motivate workers to increase efficiency. In order to achieve this they try to identify workers needs, which would then allow managers to “manipulate or influence these needs, making it easier for employees to improve their performance”(Miles,1975, p 45). However they differ greatly what an employee needs and what motivates them. Mayo focuses on work relationships as the key to improving workplace productivity, inspired by the Hawthorne studies. He studied the effects of physical working conditions on employee productivity and fatigue. These studies suggested that leaders are able to positively influence employee motivation and productivity by showing concern for employee relationships. What these studies also showed is that people desire to have good human relations in the work place, ¿½Man’s desire to be continuously associated in work with his fellows is a strong, if not the strongest, human characteristic¿½ (Mayo, 1945, p 43). If these desire we not met then people would feel less motivated. In the Hawthorne studies productivity increased and Mayo credited this to teamwork by stating ¿½What 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.¿½ (Mayo, 1933, p 46). These theories differ greater as Mayo theory is based on the belief that workers are motivated by social factors and these social needs need to be satisfied for workers to be productive while Taylor¿½s theory is based on the belief that workers are mostly motivated by monetary means. Taylor believes ¿½what workmen want from their employees beyond anything else is high wages (Taylor, 1947, p22) and thought ¿½men will not work at their best unless assured a good liberal increase, which much be permanent¿½ (Taylor, 1947, p26). Taylor theory suggests that to the best way to motivate employees is to increase their wages when they have achieved the desire outcome. However while these theories are seemingly different Mayo¿½s approach focused on the conditions under which the work was done, but just like Taylor it disregarded the task itself and the nature of the job as a factor of motivation and job satisfaction. Hence, the two theories try to satisfy workers needs to improve their performance. While Mayo and Taylor differ on what motivates employee their theories can be considered similar in relation to their aim and job itself.

Frederick Taylor vs. Douglas McGregor vs. Elton Mayo

McGregor¿½s management theory involves the idea that there are two types of managers Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X managers assumes that ¿½the average human being has an inherit dislike of work and will avoid it if he can¿½ (McGregor, 1960, p 33) and because of this ¿½most people must be coerced, controlled, directed, threatened with punishment to get them to put forth adequate effort¿½ (McGregor,1960, p34). Theory Y managers assumes employees can ¿½exercise self-direction, accept responsibility and consider work to be as natural as rest or play¿½ (Robbins, 2004, p 616). McGregor believes that employees fall under Theory Y. Taylor¿½s theories relate to McGregor¿½s as it could be considered Taylor theories fall under theory X. Taylor belief that ¿½there is no question that the tendency of the average man is toward working slow¿½(Taylor,1947, p19) that soldiering was a result of natural instinct and the value he placed on monetary motivation seems to conform to McGregor¿½s Theory X. However Taylor is not completely similar to Theory X as Theory X believes workers are not fulfilled solely with monetary rewards and will just want more when they have been received. Mayo¿½s ideas tend to follow McGregor¿½s Theory Y as Mayo¿½s theory suggests that good relationships, allowing teamwork to occur, and positive leadership will leader to greater productivity. This is similar to McGregor¿½s Theory Y stressing ¿½the necessity for selective adaptation rather than a single form of control¿½ (McGregor, 1960, p48). McGregor believes that Theory Y managers ¿½will be challenged to innovate, to discover new ways of organisaing and directing human effort¿½ (McGregor, 1960, p 54) effectively this will improve the manager¿½s effectiveness. However this differs from Mayo¿½s theory aim to attempt to motivate the employees instead. While Taylor¿½s theory is similar to McGregor¿½s Theory X and Mayo¿½s Theory is similar to McGregor¿½s Theory Y they do not perfectly match. Differences such as purposes of the theories and the extent to which the ideas in the theories are followed do occur.

Henri Fayol vs. Elton Mayo

The theories proposed by Fayol and Mayo differ greatly in all areas. Fayol “emphasized management functions and attempted to generate broad administrative principles that would serve as guidelines for the rationalization of organizational activities” (Scott, 1992, p. 36) and looked at an organization as a whole. While Mayo focused on motivation techniques and individual satisfaction. Fayol emphasised the production process and adjusted humans to this process, while Mayo’s Human Relations approach emphasised the coordination of human and social elements in an organisation through consultation, participation, communication and leadership. He was describing the structure of formal organization not the real one. The employee of an organisation is seen as a machine in Fayol¿½s theory rather than an important part of the organization. Mayo¿½s theory sees the employee¿½s needs as being important as his theory is based on the idea when the workers are happy they will be more productive.

Henri Fayol vs. Douglas McGregor

Theses two theories differ greatly mainly because Fayol¿½s theory suggests how an organisation should be run and McGregor¿½s is an example how an organisation is run. Fayol¿½s theory is a guideline and describes the structure of a formal organisation not a real one. Fayol¿½s theory allows flexibility to be applied depending on the organisations, his work is also quite general and can be applied to most organisations. For example his 14 Points are considered to be general principles of management while Fayol¿½s work is still very relevant it differs from McGregor¿½s theory which categorises managers. McGregor¿½s theory is an idea on how managers view their workers. McGregor demonstrations that companies are run by Theory X or Theory Y managers, this theory is not a guideline, mangers are either categorized as Theory X or Y. By categorising managers McGregor demonstrations their opinions of workers and the effect these opinions can have in the organisation. McGregor¿½s theory also shows how managers can choose to shift blame for bad performance on employees. The theories of Fayol and McGregor differ as Fayol¿½s theory suggests how an organisation should be run and McGregor explains how mangers view employees in actual organisations.

The theories suggested by Frederick Taylor, Henri Fayol, Elton Mayo and Douglas M


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