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The Principles of Scientific Management is a monograph published by Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911. This influential monograph is the basis of modern organization and decision theory and has motivated administrators and students of managerial technique. Taylor was an American mechanical engineer and a management consultant in his later years. He is often called "The Father of Scientific Management." His approach is also often referred to, as Taylor's Principles, or Taylorism.


Summary of the monograph

The monograph consisted of three sections: Introduction, Chapter 1: Fundamentals of Scientific Management, and Chapter 2 : The Principles of Scientific Management.



Taylor started this paper by quoting then President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. The President, in his address to the Governors at the White House, prophetically remarked that "The conservation of our national resources is only preliminary to the larger question of national efficiency." Taylor pointed out that the whole country (USA) is suffering through inefficiency in almost all of daily acts of Americans. He pointed this out through a series of simple illustrations. He tried to convince the reader that the remedy for this inefficiency lies in systematic management, rather than in searching for extraordinary people. He also tried to prove that the best management is achieved through science and rests upon a foundation of clearly defined laws, rules, and principles. He also showed that the fundamental principles of scientific management are applicable to all kinds of human activities, from simple individual acts to the work of huge corporations, and calls for the most elaborate cooperation. Through a series of illustrations, Taylor also tried to convince readers that when these principles are correctly applied, astounding results are achieved. The paper was originally prepared for presentation to The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The illustrations in the paper were designed to appeal to people within industrial and manufacturing establishments. Taylor also showed that his principles could be applied to the management of any social enterprise, such as homes, farms, small businesses, churches, philanthropic institutions, universities, and government.

Chapter 1: Fundamentals of Scientific Management

Taylor argued that the principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee. He also showed that maximum prosperity can exist only as the result of maximum productivity. He argued that the most important object of both the employee and the management should be the training and development of each individual in the establishment, so that he can do the highest class of work for which his natural abilities fit him.

Taylor was writing at a time when factories were creating big problems for the management. Workmen were quite inefficient. According to Taylor, there were three reasons for the inefficiency. They were the:

  1. Deceptive belief that a material increase in the output of each man or each machine in the trade would throw people out of work
  2. Defective management systems, which made it necessary for each workman to soldier, or work slowly to protect his own best interests
  3. Inefficient rule of thumb methods, which were almost universal in all trades, which cost much wasted effort

The paper tried to show that enormous gains would result from substituting scientific methods for rule-of-thumb.

Taylor argued that the cheapening of any article in common use almost immediately results in a largely increased demand for that article. This view contradicts the believe that a material increase in the output of each man or each machine in the trade would result in the end in throwing a large number of men out of work. As to the second cause for soldiering, Taylor pointed to many quotes from 'Shop Management' and hoped that it would explain fully the cause for soldiering. Some quotes that tried to illustrate his views are:

"This loafing or soldiering proceeds from two causes. First, from the natural instinct and tendency of men to take it easy, which may be called natural soldiering. Second, from more intricate second thought and reasoning caused by their relations with other men, which may be called systematic soldiering."

"This common tendency to 'take it easy' is greatly increased by bringing a number of men together on similar work and at a uniform standard rate of pay by the day."

"To illustrate: The writer has timed a naturally energetic workman who, while going and coming from work, would walk at a speed of from three to four miles per hour, and not infrequently trot home after a day's work. On arriving at his work he would immediately slow down to a speed of about one mile an hour. When, for example, wheeling a loaded wheelbarrow, he would go at a good fast pace even up hill, to in order to be as short a time as possible under load, and immediately on the return walk slow down to a mile an hour, improving every opportunity for delay short of actually sitting down. In order to be sure not to do more than his lazy neighbor, he would actually tire himself in his effort to go slow."

"The feeling of antagonism under the ordinary piece-work system becomes in many cases so marked on the part of the men that any proposition made by their employers, however reasonable, is looked upon with suspicion, and soldiering becomes such a fixed habit that men will frequently take pains to restrict the product of machines which they are running when even a large increase in output would involve no more work on their part."

Taylor argued that the substitution of scientific for rule of thumb methods would be benefit both employers and employees.

Chapter 2 : The Principles of Scientific Management

In this section, Taylor explained his principles of scientific management. Taylor's scientific management consisted of four principles:

1. Replace rule of thumb work methods with methods based on a scientific study of the tasks.
2. Scientifically select and then train, teach, and develop the workman, whereas in the past the employee (or workmen) chose his own work and trained himself as best he could.
3. Provide "Detailed instruction and supervision of each worker in the performance of that worker's discrete task" (Montgomery 1997: 250).
4. Divide work nearly equally between managers and workers, so that the managers apply scientific management principles to planning the work and the workers actually perform the tasks.

According to F. W. Taylor, the above combination of the initiative of the employee, coupled with the new types of work done by the management, that makes scientific management so much more efficient than the old plans.

Under the management of "initiative and incentive", the first three elements exist in many cases, but their importance is minor. However, under the scientific management, they form the very essence of the whole system.

According to Taylor, the summary of the fourth element is: Under the management of "initiative and incentive" practically the whole problem is "up to the workman," while under scientific management fully one-half of the problem is "up to the management."

See also


  • Frederick W. Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management (New York: Harper Bros., 1911)

External links


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