The Principles of Scientific Management.

Fredrick Winslow Taylor’s piece on scientific management is very interesting is the way it deals with the workforce of its time. The Principles of Scientific Management thoroughly discusses the ways that the current workforce can evolved into a more efficient group with certain policies. Taylor wrote this in 1910, just as major industrial progressions were occurring, showing the shifts that were occurring in the employer-employee relations.

Taylor made many points The Principles of Scientific Management,  some better than others. One quote that I found to be somewhat misleading was found in Chapter 2. “… and since we are dealing with our men in masses, but are trying to develop each individual man to his highest state of efficiency and prosperity.” Fredrick Winslow Taylor portrays this style in which each man is individually treated to determine their more efficient qualities. Him stating that they are not being treated in the masses though is false in the sense. This ‘individual effort’ is being portrayed, though it is happening to each individual within the masses.

The story about the Pennsylvania Dutch man at the Bethlehem Steel Factory showed the effects on to get the masses into a more efficient process while working with the individual. For example, this man was only being paid $1.15 an hour. If he was able to become a ‘good working man’ and load more pig iron, his pay rate would increase into one like the ‘high priced man’. This wasn’t to help out the individual, but to help out the company as a whole, through increased mass efficiency. The man was doing about 3.5x of his original work in one day, with only 1.5x the money. Employees just became pawns in the workforce and Taylor hits that nail on the head. Not only did they only do what they were told, but employment became full life dedications.

One thought on “The Principles of Scientific Management.

  1. I think Taylor’s goal of developing the efficiency of individual workers is achievable to an extent. Today in class we discussed Henry Ford and his ability to ensure the productivity of his workforce in part by creating detailed background checks on each employee. I think a similar system could be applied to Taylor’s theory when it comes to the identification of workers’ skills. Taylor seems more concerned with finding the right jobs for the right people rather than developing the skills of individual workers. He discusses the inefficiency of some pig iron workers who were unable to carry the maximum weight of iron and how they were reassigned to other departments within the company. I think this is what Taylor is talking about in your quote on the masses and given his example, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to treat workers this way.

    I agree that the wage raises workers like “Schmidt” received were not enough to justify the increase in output that they generated. That being said, my guess is Taylor would argue that these laborers were being overpaid to begin with (given the lack of efficiency) and that their increased pay more accurately reflects the work that they do.

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