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Motivation Theory - Taylor

Author: Jim Riley  Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012

Taylor & Scientific Management

Introduction

Taylor developed his theory of "scientific management" as he worked his way up from a labourer to a works manager in a US steelworks.

From his observations, Taylor made three key assumptions about human behaviour at work:

(1) Man is a rational economic animal concerned with maximising his economic gain;

(2) People respond as individuals, not as groups

(3) People can be treated in a standardised fashion, like machines

Taylor had a simple view about what motivated people at work - money. He felt that workers should get a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, and that pay should be linked to the amount produced (e.g. piece-rates). Workers who did not deliver a fair day's work would be paid less (or nothing). Workers who did more than a fair day's work (e.g. exceeded the target) would be paid more.

The implications of Taylor's theory for managing behaviour at work were:

- The main form of motivation is high wages, linked to output

- A manager's job is to tell employees what to do

- A worker's job is to do what they are told and get paid accordingly

Weaknesses in Taylor's Approach

The most obvious weakness in Taylor's approach is that it ignores the many differences between people. There is no guarantee that a "best way" will suit everyone.

Secondly, whilst money is an important motivation at work for many people, it isn't for everyone. Taylor overlooked the fact that people work for reasons other than financial reward.








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