Frederick Taylor and Scientific Management

The main argument of Frederick Taylor’s “The Principles of Scientific Management” is that men are wasting their time in factories but there are ways to improve that.  The paper itself “was originally prepared for presentation to The American Society of Mechanical Engineers” so he was not writing for the uninformed.  This meant that his writing in the paper was not simple, it was not trying to address the everyman.  Taylor was aiming for people who had seen the issue of workers taking their time.  Written after the Industrial Revolution had been established, Taylor had seen the issues with the new factory system.  Taylor himself was a mechanical engineer so he had seen first hand the issues he was writing on.  His paper focused on the issue of “soldiering” and how it could be improved.  He referenced studies that proved that workers, when they got to work, would do everything slower than when they were walking to work or at home. Taylor was writing to expose this flaw in the factory system and gives ways to fix it.  He gave three distinct reasons about why the “soldiering” and explained each of them.  He proved that men do take it easy when they get to work and that it not only reflects the employee but also the employer.  Taylor’s complete message was that the factory system still is not perfect, that it has its flaws and they need to be recognized.  While the problem of laziness in the workplace exists, it is one that can be fixed.

5 thoughts on “Frederick Taylor and Scientific Management

  1. This post is uninspired, repetitive and lacks detail and attention to important components of Taylor’s essay. In short, Taylor emphasizes the importance in the abolishing of the “soldier” class of worker through raising wages scaled to the amount of work produced by a monitored worker in order to provide incentive for the employee to raise efforts as a means to both produce more product and earn more money, reaching maximum productivity under his scientific industrial method. This strategy was sought to be implemented in order to replace the passiveness of the daily worker that was immediately inconsequential to the employee but devastating for overall production.
    His ultimate goal was to maximize prosperity for the employer while simultaneously reaching the maximum potential prosperity for the employees.

  2. It was good to point out that his writing was aimed at intelligent, informed engineers. Taylor is in a way similar to Saint-Simon in that he is writing after much of the Industrial Revolution has occurred and has therefore been witness to its pros and cons. As an engineer he writes to others to convey the problems that he has noticed, and how laziness is a theme among workers that should be addressed.

  3. Taylor essentially pointed out how industry strayed away from Adam Smith’s principles of economics. He wanted to correct the direction of industry to benefit both the workers and employers. While most managers only cared that their pay is raised, Taylor saw that the conditions and pay of the workers is related to that of the employers and managers.

  4. You point out (probably unintentionally) several similarities between Taylor’s writing and Adam Smith’s. Smith wrote about how a worker tends to be uninspired in his work and may saunter between tasks; he also wrote about maximizing benefits for both the industrialist and the worker. Taylor touches on similar ideas, looking to improve efficiency, working conditions, and maximize benefits for employers and employees alike.

  5. Turning this thread to a more modern view, what do you think is the most effective way to increase worker productivity in today’s workplace? As an economics major, I feel it is necessary to be as efficient as possible at all times, but sometimes it is a problem to get all of the employees on the same page. I think the best method is by giving your employees some incentives (more vacation time, a bonus), but I believe there are other avenues as well. Thoughts?

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