[Part-2] Scientific Management: FREDERICK TAYLOR

6 Different Techniques of Scientific Management


The principles of scientific management only bring out the basic philosophy behind the theory. The question which now arises is how to implement these principles practically. Taylor has devised the following techniques for actually implementing the principles of scientific management.

  1. Functional Foremanship

F.W. Taylor has propounded the functional organization. This form of organization is totally based on the principle of specialization and makes full utilization of the expertise of various experts.

In a functional organization, work is divided into many small parts and each part is assigned to an expert. In this manner, all the benefits of specialization are availed of.

 Taylor has defined functional organization as follows:

“Functional organization consists of so dividing the management that each man from the assistant superintendent shall have as few functions as possible to perform. If practisable, the work of each man in the management should be confined to the performance of a single leading function.”

Taylor has suggested the division of the work of factory manager into two sub departments:

  • Planning department, and
  • Production department.

Four experts are appointed in each department. The experts in the planning department do planning and the experts in the production department help in production.

Principles of scientific management

(i) Specialists of Planning Department and their Functions

(a) Route Clerk:

This clerk ensures the sequence of completing a particular work, meaning thereby the stages it shall have to pass before being finalized. He also decides the job to be done for the day and where it is to be done.

(b) Instruction Card Clerk:

This clerk prepares the instruction cards for the workers and hands them over to the gang boss. These cards contain information about the nature of the work, procedure of doing it, material to be used and the details about machinery.

(c) Time and Cost Clerk:

This clerk decides as to when a particular work is to be started and finished, meaning thereby as to what time the whole work will take place. It is also decided at the same time at what cost the product will be produced.

(d) Discipline Officer:

The discipline officer ensures that every work is being performed in a disciplined manner.

(ii) Specialists of Production Department and their Functions

(a) Gang Boss:

The workers are divided into various groups from the point of view of control. A group leader is selected who is known as the gang boss. He is expected to ensure that both the workers and the machines are fit enough for production and that the material required for their use has been made available to them.

(b) Speed Boss:

The main function of the speed boss is to ensure that all the workers are performing their job at the required or expected speed. If it is not so, the speed boss tries to find out the cause of slow speed and hence a solution for it.

(c) Repair Boss:

The main function of the repair boss is to keep the machines and tools in working condition.

(d) Inspector:

He inspects the things produced and compares their quality with the standard prescribed for them and tries to find out the difference. In case of unfavorable result he initiates corrective action.

  1. Standardization of Work

Standardization means setting standards for different factors, after due deliberation.

For example, the amount of work to be done by a worker in a day may be standardized.

In other words, the worker is expected to do the standard amount of work every day.

In the same manner standards may also be set for raw materials, machines and tools, techniques, conditions of work, etc. The following is a brief description of such standards:

(i) Standardized Material:

By standardization of material we mean that the raw material provided should be according to the quality of finished goods required.

For example, if for producing ‘A’ quality of finished goods ‘X’ quality of raw materials are required (and the same has been determined after due deliberation), then we can say that for ‘A’ quality of finished goods ‘X’ quality of raw materials have been standardized.

In the future whenever it is required to produce ‘A’ quality of finished goods, ‘X’ quality of raw materials will be used without any hesitation. By doing so good quality of finished goods can be produced in the least possible time.

(ii) Standardized Machines and Tools:

Standardization of machines and tools ensures that they are of the required quantity and type to produce the desired finished goods.

For example, if for producing ‘A’ quality of finished goods ‘X’ machine and M, N and O tools are required, then whenever finished goods of’ A’ quality are to be produced, it can be done with the use of ‘X’ machine and M, N and O tools.

Standardization of machines and tools will reduce errors on the part of workers as to which machine or tools are to be used, and hence work can proceed at a much faster pace.

(iii) Standardized Methods:

By standardizing the optimum techniques of doing work, it can proceed at a faster pace and with much greater ease. The technique determined for doing a particular work is used uniformly whenever such work is performed.

(iv) Standardized Working Conditions:

Working conditions have a very deep impact on the efficiency of workers. In standardising working conditions, it is noted that how much temperature, ventilation, lighting, cleanliness and safety is necessary at the workplace.

After due studies, the working conditions are standardized and efforts are made to maintain them at the workplace.

  1. Simplification

Simplification means putting an end to the unnecessary types, qualities, sizes/weights, etc. For example, it is all right for a shoe manufacturing company to manufacture shoes of 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, sizes but if it starts manufacturing shoes of 0, 0.5, 1, 1.25, 1.5, 1.75, 2, 2.25, 2.5, 2.75, 3, it will be simply wrong.

There is no justification in the difference of such sizes. In such a situation different types of machines shall have to be installed, more stock shall have to be maintained and increased labour costs shall have to be borne.

Therefore, it is advisable to manufacture shoes only of the proper sizes. In other words, simplification of the product is the answer.

Objectives of simplification:

(i) Effecting economy in the use of machines.

(ii) Bringing down the labour cost with the help of specialization. (The benefits of specialization can be obtained by restricting specialization only to a few products.)

(iii) Affecting economy in the staff.

According to another example, a paper manufacturing company in the USA started the work of simplification of the types of papers it was manufacturing and succeeded in reducing their types from 2,000 to 200 only. The effect of such an exercise can simply be imagined.

  1. Scientific Study of Work

It means to conduct the deep analysis of all the activities being performed in the organization with the aim of producing maximum possible quality output at minimum costs. Taylor has conducted the following studies:

(i) Method Study:

It refers to identify the most suitable way to do a particular activity. To conduct this study, process chart and operation research techniques are used. The main objective of this study is to minimise the cost of production and maximise the quality and level of consumer satisfaction.

(ii) Motion Study:

It refers to conduct the study of motions being performed by workers and machines while doing the job. The movie camera is used to conduct this study. The main objective of this study is to eliminate the unnecessary motions.

For example, during an experiment it was found that while laying a brick, a mason was conducting 18 different activities, but after eliminating the unnecessary activities the number of activities could be reduced to five, and in certain cases even down to two activities.

(iii) Time Study:

It refers to determine the standard time required to complete a particular activity. The standard time is determined on the basis of average time taken by the several experiences of the same work.

This study is conducted with the help of a stopwatch. The main objectives of the study are (i) to get the estimated figure of labour costs, (ii) to determine the number of required workers and (iii) to decide about the suitable incentive plan.

(iv) Fatigue Study:

It refers to determine the duration and frequency of rest intervals to complete a particular job. The rest refreshes the workers. They work again with their full capacity.

The main objective of this study is to maintain the efficiency level of workers. There may be so many causes of fatigue, such as long working hours, poor working conditions, unsuitable work, unhappy relations with the boss, etc.

  1. Differential Wage System/Differential Piece Rate

Taylor has advised the adoption of differential wage systems in order to motivate the employees. According to this system, wages are paid on the basis of work done and not on the basis of time spent in doing the work.

In this system two different wage rates are used: one is the high wage rate and the other is the low wage rate. Those workers who are able to produce the standard number of units within a fixed duration are paid as per the high wage rate, and those workers who are not able to produce the standard number of units within the same time are paid as per the lower wage rate.

For example, let the standard output per day be 20 units and the two wage rates be 5 per unit and 4 per unit respectively. Worker ‘A’ produces 20 units in a day and in doing so he earns 100 (20 units X 5 per unit).

Another worker ‘B’ produces only 18 units in a day and hence he will earn only 72 (18 units x 4 per unit). In this way, even though ‘B’ has produced only 2 units less than ‘A’ the difference in their wages will be 28 100 – 72).

As a result, less efficient workers will be motivated to work more and efficient workers will be motivated to maintain their efficiency.

  1. Mental Revolution

Mental revolution calls for a change in the mindset of both employers and workers. As per Taylor, a revolution in mindset of both the employers and the workers is required because it will promote feeling of cooperation, and will be beneficial to both the parties.

Normally, it is seen that conflict between employers and workers results in division of profits, with both the parties demanding a larger share of profits.

This is the main reason why a mental revolution is required. According to Taylor, instead of fighting over division of profits, both the parties should make efforts for increasing the profits. Such a situation will result in an increase in production, and as such a high increase in profits that will make any talk of division of profits meaningless.


Working in the steel industry, Taylor had observed the phenomenon of workers’ purposely operating well below their capacity that is, soldiering. He attributed soldiering to three causes:

  1. The almost universally held belief among workers that if they became more productive, fewer of them would be needed and jobs would be eliminated.
  2. Non-incentive wage systems encourage low productivity if the employee will receive the same pay regardless of how much is produced, assuming the employee can convince the employer that the slow pace really is a good pace for the job. Employees take great care never to work at a good pace for fear that this faster pace would become the new standard. If employees are paid by the quantity they produce, they fear that management will decrease their per-unit pay if the quantity increases.
  3. Workers waste much of their effort by relying on rule-of-thumb methods rather than on optimal work methods that can be determined by scientific study of the task.

To counter soldiering and to improve efficiency, Taylor began to conduct experiments to determine the best level of performance for certain jobs, and what was necessary to achieve this performance.

Principles of Scientific Management by FW Taylor and Theory of Motivation

Scientific management

  •  A mechanical engineer himself, he tried to establish a theory for what could improve worker and industry efficiency
  • He suggested that workers are primarily motivated by pay, and probably just pay alone.
  • He also propagated that the workers should be closely supervised and controlled to ensure maximum productivity from the workers.

Scientific Principles

  • Science, not Rule of Thumb Taylor maintained that the rule of thumb should be replaced by scientific knowledge. While rule of thumb emphasizes mere estimation, scientific method denotes precision in determining any aspect of work. This should be done with the help of careful scientific investigation.
  • Harmony, not discord Taylor emphasized that harmony rather than discord should be obtained in group action. Harmony means that a group should work as a unit and contribute to the maximum. Within it there should be mutual give and take situation and proper understanding.
  • Cooperation, not individualism Scientific management requires that parts of industrial body co- operate with each other, scientific management is based on mutual confidence, co-operation and goodwill. It requires a complete mental revolution on the part of both workers and management.
  • The Development of each man to his greatest efficiency and prosperity In order to maximize production all possible efforts are made to increase the efficiency of workers. Workers are selected according to the nature of work. It includes scientific training, scientific allotment of work, implementation of incentive wage plan above all, development of workers to the fullest extent for themselves and also for the companies’ highest prosperity.

Most strongly propagated Incentive Wage System Taylor for the first time advocated an incentive wage system in the form of differential piece wages instead of time wages. Under differential piece system two wage rates are prescribed, i.e. one lower and the other higher. Those who are unable to perform standard work within standard time are paid wages at lower rate per unit.

Critiques of Taylorism

Taylorism promotes the idea that there is “one right way” to do something. As such, it is at odds with current approaches such as MBO   (Management By Objectives), Continuous Improvement   initiatives, BPR   (Business Process Reengineering), and other tools like them. These promote individual responsibility, and seek to push decision making through all levels of the organization.

The idea here is that workers are given as much autonomy as practically possible, so that they can use the most appropriate approaches for the situation at hand. (Reflect here on your own experience – are you happier and more motivated when you’re following tightly controlled procedures, or when you’re working using your own judgment?) What’s more, front line workers need to show this sort of flexibility in a rapidly-changing environment. Rigid, rules-driven organizations really struggle to adapt in these situations.

Teamwork is another area where pure Taylorism is in opposition to current practice. Essentially, Taylorism breaks tasks down into tiny steps, and focuses on how each person can do his or her specific series of steps best. Modern methodologies prefer to examine work systems more holistically in order to evaluate efficiency and maximize productivity. The extreme specialization that Taylorism promotes is contrary to modern ideals of how to provide a motivating and satisfying workplace.

Where Taylorism separates manual from mental work, modern productivity enhancement practices seek to incorporate worker’s ideas, experience and knowledge into best practice. Scientific management in its pure form focuses too much on the mechanics, and fails to value the people side of work, whereby motivation and workplace satisfaction are key elements in an efficient and productive organization.

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