Author: Jim Riley Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012
Taylor & Scientific Management
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
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
- 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
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.