An Introduction to the Scientific Theory of Management

Scientific management theory was proposed by Frederick Winslow Taylor in the first decade of the 20th century, is the first coherent theory of administration. According to this theory the same principles of management can be applied to all social entities. The governing policies for our homes, farms, state, business, and church, have the same underlying principles. It emphasized on improvements in the lower level of the company rather than at top management. It aimed at studying the relationship between the physical nature of work and the physiological nature of the workmen. It stressed upon specialization, predictability, technical competence and rationality for improving the organizational efficiency and economy.


Taylor gave the following four principles which according to him can be used universally:

-Construct a science for each element of a man’s work.

-Scientifically select, train, teach and develop workmen.

-Management should fully cooperate with workers.

-The division of work and responsibility between management and the workers must be shared equally.

Scientific management, according to Taylor, involves a complete mental revolution on the part of workers towards their duties, work, fellow men and their employers; and on the part of managers, towards their employees and their problems.


The techniques of scientific management facilitate the application of principles of scientific management mentioned below:

FUNCTIONAL FOREMANSHIP: Under this, a worker is supervised and guided by eight functional foremen. Four of these are responsible for planning viz. Order-of-work-and-route-clerk, Instruction-card clerk, Time-and-cost clerk, Shop Clerk. The other four are responsible for execution and serve on shop floor namely, Gang boss, speed boss, inspector and Repair boss.

MOTION STUDY: It involves the observation of all the motions comprised in a particular job and then determination of best set of motions.

TIME STUDY: It is used to determine the standard time for completion of work.

DIFFRENTIAL PIECE RATE PLAN: Under this plan, a worker is paid a low piece rate up to a standard, a large bonus at the standard and a higher piece rate above the standard.

EXCEPTION PRINCIPLE: It involves setting up a large daily task by the management, with reward for achieving targets and penalty for not meeting it.


Scientific management came to be criticized and opposed by various sections for the following reasons:

-It was concentrated on the shop floor. It did not stress on the higher levels of management.

-It was criticized as a mechanistic theory of organization as it neglected the human side of the organization. It treated worker as a machine and sought to make it as efficient as machine itself.

-It was criticized on the ground that it underestimated and oversimplified human motivation by explaining human motivation in terms of monetary aspects only.

-It was also opposed by the managers due to two reasons. First, they would lose their judgment and discretion due to the adoption of scientific methods. Second, their work and responsibilities increases under Taylorism.

Source by Allan Wu

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