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Scientific Management Theory: Advantages and Disadvantages


What is Scientific Management Theory?

The Scientific Management theory or concept is about the progress of science to substitute the approximation principal or hypothesis of the awareness and education of workers.

Scientific information always methodical, standardized and authorized knowledge; as scientific knowledge is logical and rational.

The main intention of scientific management theory is to enhance economic efficiency, specifically labor productivity. This theory considered one of the best and initial efforts where science applied to management and engineering of process.

Scientific management theory by Fredrick Taylor was a technique that was developed to enhance the efficiency of a work process.

Scientific Management Theory Principles

Scientific Management Theory by Taylor :

The theory centered on the systematic study of people, behavior, and tasks. The core of Taylor’s theory that they followed the technique of breaking the work process into sub-tasks or least possible units to regulate the most efficient method for accomplishing a particular task.

Also mentioned as classical management theory, scientific management theory made its entry in the early 1900s to enhance worker productivity.

Functions of Scientific Management Theory:

Though the scientific theory of management provided tools for workers to enhance their output and efficiency, employees did only menial work and hence the theory criticism of the classical theory of management faced critics for developing an assembly-line atmosphere. With this as a reason, the theory falls out of favor by various companies but still consider as a valuable tool in many companies for its principles.

A good example where techniques of classical and scientific management theory can apply is in factories where repetitive tasks achieved. The importance of scientific management theory and principles are,

  • Employees must be selected based on their skills and abilities related to the job.
  • Incentives and wages provide to employees should base on encouraging them and enhancing their output.
  • The leadership within the organization should be one that develops a standard method for doing a certain job with the assistance of scientific management theory.
  • There should be attention to eradicating interruptions while planning work.
  • Rule of thumb work methods replaced with other methods which are based on the scientific study of tasks.

6 Main Principles of Scientific Management

  1. Science, not Rule of Thumb
  2. Scientific Selection, Training, and Development of Workers
  3. Harmony, not Discord (Conflict)
  4. Cooperation, not Individualism
  5. Maximum, not Restricted Output
  6. Equal Division of Responsibility between Management and Workers

Advantages and Disadvantages of Scientific Management Theory: Advantages Disadvantages
1 Enhanced production Requires huge capital
2 Ability to control Management takes control
3 Decreases inaccuracy Planning reduces productivity
4 Decreased autocracy Demotivating approach
5 Cost of production reduced Overly bureaucratic
6 Pay system Mechanistic
7 Quick decision making Not suitable for teams
8 A benefit to customers Work division
9 Efficiency increased Avoids bargaining
10 Best use of resources and development Loss
11 Beneficial to the nation Unemployment
12 Less production time Adverse effects
13 Worker instructions Stress
14 Good working conditions Wrong assumption
15 Owners and investors benefitted Follows narrow application
16 Avoids labor and management disputes Time-consuming
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Advantages of Scientific Management Theory:

Let us discuss the scientific management theory’s advantages or benefits.

1. Enhanced production:

The scientific management theory is responsible for enhanced production as it concentrates on steady improvements in business operations. There is fruitful cooperation between managers and workers and hence enhanced teamwork achieved. The harmonious relationship between the management and workers assists in production in the organization.

2. Ability to control:

The best part of scientific management theorists is that the managers can have good control overproduction. Employees become specialists in their field as they do the same task repeatedly; this makes it easy for the manager to have control over employees.

3. Decreases inaccuracy:

Inaccuracy decreased as the theory based on experiment and observation for context-specific solutions. With better planning and improved decision making, the accuracy achieved.

4. Decreased autocracy:

The theory stimulates the management to adopt a positive relationship with leadership. Cooperation amongst employees and managers enhances democracy in the workplace. Hence there decreased autocracy by following scientific management theory.

5. Cost of production reduced:

The mechanization and the latest use of technology in the production of goods enhance productivity. Since there is enhanced large scale production, there is a decrease in per unit cost of production.

6. Pay system:

With the theory piecework pay system follow, where payment is monitored based on piecework. Here incentives considered to enhance productivity and provide high wages for employees. With higher productivity, there is an increase in wages for employees. The differential incentive plan provides higher wages to efficient workers. In this way, the standard of living of the employees made better.

7. Quick decision making:

Planning ahead of time and prompt decision making are few good aspects of scientific management theory.

8. A benefit to customers:

With the help of scientific management theory, there are triple benefits for the consumers. Consumers pay fewer prices and can get the best quality products. They are also able to attain better living standards.

9. Efficiency increased:

They follow early working methods and control where a management methodology developed for training, selecting and supervising them in a close manner. Since scientific selection and training methods follow, it leads to a workforce that is best and enhances efficiency.

Efficiency also increased with the standardization of techniques, tools, equipment, and materials. The workers also benefit with development and scientific training as they can enhance their competency and knowledge.

10. Best use of resources and development:

With the scientific techniques followed, there is better utilization of resources this, in turn, leads to increased productivity. Wastage and inefficiency of all means eradicated with the theory. Also with the help of scientific investigation, it leads to technological development. They also follow other quantitative techniques and modern studies are based.

11. Beneficial to the nation:

With the help of scientific management theory, there enhanced beneficial aspects for the nation. Some of them increase production and less cost of production, industrial harmony, and peace, every phase of society meet the high standard of living, the national income enhanced, and there is also quick industrial development with this theory. The role of Scientific management theory plays a crucial part in developing the nation.

12. Less production time:

Work in lesser time achieves with scientific management theory. The operations regarding productions pre-established and lead to fewer production delays.

13. Worker instructions:

With the assistance of this theory, work carried out regularly according to pre-determined plans. Complete guidance and instructions provided to workers to carry on with work as planned.

14. Good working conditions:

A proper atmosphere for working and conditions are developed with scientific management theory. Proper working schedules follow with ventilation; adequate lighting, rest pauses, proper safety, and other facilities provided to patients.

15. Owners and investors benefitted:

Large scale production and enhanced productivity leads to enhanced turnovers and more profit for investors. High profits can reap for self-financing so that the concern has a sound financial base.

16. Avoids labor and management disputes:

Since there are a healthy relationship and cooperation between management and labors, hence they have a cordial and harmonious relationship with one another. In this way, industrial disputes reduce and peace in an industry achieved.

The mental revolution is a concept evolving by Taylor for the development of mutual trust, understanding, and confidence between management and labor.

Disadvantages of Scientific Management Theory:

The following mentioned are a few limitations or disadvantages of scientific management.

1. Requires huge capital:

The theory requires an investment of huge capital and consider as a costly system. The establishment of work study, planning department, training of workers, and standardization requires more money.

2. Management takes control:

The management takes complete responsibility related to the control and planning of workplace activities. Since the managers take up control of the employees, they lack creativity, another reason for this is that since they repeat the same task, their chore is meaningless, monotonous, and tedious which reduces employee motivation.

3. Planning reduces productivity:

Though the capability to plan is an advantage, the downside of planning is that it makes work inflexible and rigid and may lead to carelessness and dissatisfaction. This directed to less productivity.

4. Demotivating approach:

With the application of the scientific approach of management, the employees focused on how well they perform their job and their statistics and results produced along with a time frame. With this result, the employees may feel underestimated and also feel alienated which may direct them to absenteeism.

5. Overly bureaucratic:

Over bureaucratic activity may be a major disadvantage in any organization. A bureaucratic and strict organization may make the employees feel dissatisfied and this may lead to high staff turnover rates and may affect productivity.

New staff must be trained to adapt to new changes in the sector which leads to wastage of productivity time.

6. Mechanistic:

The theory follows a specific approach for organizations and the employers gain control over the workers. This activity makes work mechanistic and treats workers like machines.

The theory focuses on efficiency, where workers viewed as robots to speed up work. The workers lose skill level and autonomy work level; they aren’t beneficial for state of the art working conditions.

7. Not suitable for teams:

Scientific management theory doesn’t work fruitful for teams and groups as they have the capability to abuse and exploit human beings which may lead to conflicts. There is no scope for individual preference with this theory.

Functional foremanship followed by Taylor, where the workers required to report to eight bosses. In this way, the unity of command broken, where the worker needs to report to just one boss. When there is no unity of command, there is confusion and disorder in the organization.

8. Work division:

By applying scientific management theory there is a separation of work such as in planning any function and executing them. Since management takes complete responsibility, there is a reduction in workers’ role in rigid and adherence procedures where the workers have no idea.

9. Avoids bargaining:

Since the scientific approach follows the piece work pay system, there is no chance for any realistic bargaining regarding the wage rates, as the tasks timed, measured and rated scientifically.

10. Loss:

There are more chances for financial loss as there are more changes that take place within the organization.

11. Unemployment:

With the application of this theory, men replaced by machines which in turn lead to unemployment. In this way, fewer employees required and many chucked out from work.

12. Adverse effects:

The scientific management theory pushes workers to rush to complete their work and complete work within the stipulated time. In this way, there is an adverse effect on the health of the workers.

13. Stress:

With managerial decisions, there is strictness and stress for managers as they need to take responsibility for having complete control over the workplace. In this way, there is pressure influenced in the workplace for the workers too.

Productivity and profitability give importance which leads to exploitation of employees and they associated in trade unions. This led to the mistrust amongst employees and management.

14. Wrong assumption:

According to Frederick Winslow Taylor’s theory of motivation, employees do not naturally enjoy work and they require close observation and control. Taylor’s assumed that workers focus and motivated by employing financial gains. But the real truth is that the employees not motivated by finance aspects but by non-finance incentives such as social needs and more.

15. Follows narrow application:

The scientific management theory focuses on a narrow application. They are applied only at times when there is a quantitative measuring of the employees. The theory applies only to certain factories where the performance measure quantitatively. The theory not adopted in the service sector as here the performance not measured quantitatively.

16. Time-consuming:

The scientific management theory is considered time-consuming as it requires complete reorganizing and mental revision of the organization. The theory when adopted needs more time for standardization, study, and specialization, or else at the time of overhauling, the workers suffer.

These are considered a few advantages and disadvantages of scientific management theory. Hence it is suggested to make a complete research about the theory and review if it would be suitable for the organization and later adopt it.

The principles of scientific management” was published in 1911 by Frederick Winslow Taylor, where this theory was applied to the management of workers.

This theory was adopted mainly by many organizations to improve productivity.

To simplify jobs, tasks are optimized and the employees are trained to perform such tasks in the best way.

Scientific management theories have worked in many concerns and made them beneficial, though it had minimal disadvantages.

There are many sources that best explains the good aspects of the theory. The experimentation was followed for some years and was concluded with classical scientific approach principles, advantages, and disadvantages.

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