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The Principles of Scientific Management Paperback – November 9, 2010
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From the Back Cover
For more than 80 years, this influential work by Frederick Winslow Taylor—the pioneer of scientific management studies—has inspired administrators and students of managerial techniques to adopt productivity-increasing procedures. Indeed, this book laid the groundwork for modern organization and decision theory.
As an engineer for a steel company, Taylor made careful experiments to determine the best way of performing each operation and the amount of time it required, analyzing the materials, tools, and work sequence, and establishing a clear division of labor between management and workers. His experiments resulted in the formulation of the principles expounded in this remarkable essay, first published in 1911.
Taylor advocated a scientific management system that develops leaders by organizing workers for efficient cooperation, rather than curtailing inefficiency by searching for exceptional leaders someone else has trained. The whole system rests upon a foundation of clearly defined laws and rules. Moreover, the fundamental principles of scientific management apply to all kinds of human activities, from the simplest individual acts to the most elaborate cooperative efforts of mighty corporations. Correct application of these principles, according to Taylor, will yield truly astonishing results.
Unabridged Dover (1998) republication of the work published by Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, 1911.
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Top Customer Reviews
Prior to Taylor, management tried to create output by providing incentives to workers. But pressure from peers kept workers from doing more work. Everyone agreed that this would lead to fewer jobs.
The virtuous cycle of higher performance, lower prices, more sales, and higher pay for workers and shareholders was not yet uncovered.
Taylor sees the results of the higher productivity mostly being of help to consumers, with the remainder of the benefit split between shareholders and workers. In that he was prescient. Advanced thinkers today are rediscovering this old truth, first elaborated by Taylor.
What I found to be delightful in the book was the emphasis on trying to approach the ideal practice, rather than being satisfied with the best of today.
Here are the key principles for your reference:
(1) develop a science for each element of a task to determine the most productive way to do that task (quality and quantity considered in terms of total costs)
(2) scientifically select and train those who can do the task the most effectively in what needs to be done, and provide all of the help they need
(3) create an environment where the person doing the task can be productive (this often involves systems limitations, like input from others)
(4) management has a role in designing the work, selecting workers who are ideal for the work, and helping the work be learned properly. There is an equal division between the worker and management in creating the right result.Read more ›
However, this starting point does not set the tone for the rest of the book. Taylor and his Taylorism/task management is more human than most people will tell you. This can be seen from the first page of the first chapter, where Taylor explains the principal of object of management, which "should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee".
Initially, Taylor starts with a short introduction and reasons of "soldiering" which he refers to as "deliberately working slowly as as to avoid doing a full day's work". Taylor then turns to his now-famous Scientific Management. The four elements which constitute the essence of scientific management are: First, the development of standardization of methods. Second, the careful selection and training of personnel. Third, extensive supervision by management and payment of bonuses. Fourth, an equal division of the work and responsibility between the workman and the management. Taylor uses some somewhat old-fashioned examples to explain task-management, such as pig-iron handling, bricklaying, and inspection of bicycle balls.Read more ›
Before reading Taylor, you should first get up to speed on modern management/leadership concepts. Then, travel back to a time before machines replaced human labor. (If you are my age it should be easy!) Now read Taylor and use just a bit of imagination to visualize what he would be doing today. Then, and only then, can you begin to understand and appreciate what this man and a few other pioneers like him did.
Would his mindset change the way you do business? Then you'd better change because TQM and Collaborative Management are just Taylor on steroids. You can't understand management/leadership unless you understand Taylor. And you can't compete unless you understand both of these.
Taylor had humble beginnings (he was a shop laborer early in his career), and later he switched to consulting for various types of manufacturers. Peter F. Drucker and other scientific management gurus owe Taylor a debt of gratitude, which I'm sure they would readily acknowledge. All of us owe a debt to him as well. How can a firm reach greater efficiencies? Taylor suggested that firms do it in ways that even today are resisted and misunderstood by management. Increase workers' pay. Give them mandatory breaks throughout the day. Timing rest breaks between heavy lifting optimizes productivity. Please don't ignore these examples in the information age - Taylor was ahead of his time and perhaps even ahead of ours. Today's intelligent manager can still discover many useful ideas in this book.
It's not a terribly long work, and it's fun to read. I'm surprised that I was able to earn a BSBA without being required to read it, or parts of it. It's invaluable for firms and workers in any country, developed or undeveloped, and the firms that dare to utilize the ideas will be quite happy with the result: increased productivity, and therefore, increased profits. econ
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another lunatic who made us nothing but "robots".
We are 138.
I am not writing about the quality of Taylor's thinking as it was clearly short-sighted in many ways. Read morePublished on January 5, 2014 by Nina
Must have for every industrial engineer, process engineer, mfg. professional, shop floor staff, IT and senior management alike. recommend highlyPublished on December 16, 2013 by feroz lambe
Why learn the hard way.....a must for everyone in management. A guide to not over managing. Get it for the young people in your family.Published on April 30, 2013 by KerrDinkle
First printed in 1911 this book is a must read for engineers with an interest in the origins of modern, specialized production methods. Read morePublished on November 13, 2012 by Nevan Hanumara