Scientific management is a management theory based on analyzing and studying workplace processes with the goal of making them more efficient. Its founder was Frederick Taylor and the theory emerged late in the 19th century. Scientific management analyzes workflows and processes with the goal of making them more efficient. While the influence of scientific management reached its peak in the mid-20th century, some of its principles live on today in total quality management and Six Sigma processes.
One of scientific management's greatest accomplishments is increasing productivity. By studying the activities of workers, scientific management discovered methods to make every worker more efficient. Time and motion studies and other workplace studies analyzed work operations and discovered the most effective and efficient ways to perform jobs. By discovering how to maximize the efforts of everyone in a company, profitability could increase, making organizations better able to compete in the global marketplace.
The development of offshore markets is one of the most significant developments that scientific management has produced in the 21st century. As a result of its rigorous analysis of labor techniques, many functions that once were accomplished in the United States are now performed overseas. Scientific management measured the most effective and cost efficient manners to produce goods and services. Frequently, because of the high labor costs in America, companies moved production of goods and provision of certain services to India, China, Korea and other countries, where labor costs and taxes are much lower.
Total quality is a direct result of scientific management. Many principles of quality improvement and the Six Sigma method of quality management trace their origins to scientific management. The philosophies of continuous improvement, constantly seeking better ways to improve quality, are also directly related to scientific management. Japanese management, which led to the quality movement, traces many of its principles to scientific management. The automotive industry and the military have also greatly improved the quality of their products and services by stressing quality improvement techniques.
Division of Work
Dividing work between workers and supervisors is another direct result of scientific management. Breaking a job into parts and making the work as systematic as possible have produced greater results and standardization. The project management process of today, used by most companies to manage large projects, is directly related to the principles of scientific management. Supervisors also benefit from scientific management through the systematic performance management processes used in most corporations today. The typical organizational chart for organizations is also a product of scientific management principles.
- Skymark; Frederick W. Taylor: Master of Scientific Management; Vincenzo Sandrone
- "The Extraordinary Leader"; John H. Zenger & Joseph Folkman; 2002
- "Good to Great"; Jim Collins; 2001
Based in Bethlehem, Pa., Kermit Burley has been writing articles for over 30 years. His articles have appeared in "Training" magazine, as well as numerous company publications throughout the course of his career. Burley holds a Masters of Education in instructional design from Penn State and is certified as a trainer and instructional designer.