Question
Asked 14th Apr, 2016

What is the relevance of Taylorism today?

What is the relevance of Taylorism today and how has it contributed to the HRM of organisations? Why is there so much concern with the application of this approach (e.g. in terms of performance management and surveillance) for HRM? Are these concerns justified? Please help me with the academic reference

Most recent answer

20th Jul, 2021
Peter Mwaura
University of Nairobi
Fredric Taylor theory of scientific management is very applicable in industries where specialization is the fulcrum of production. This ensures production efficiency and employee productivity with resultant improved bottom line. However in service industry where a mix of skills is required, Taylorism
may not apply as much

Popular Answers (1)

20th Apr, 2016
Mitchell Langbert
City University of New York - Brooklyn College
Taylorism permeates virtually all management thinking. It is like asking what is the influence of Newton and Einstein on physics.  One difference is that Taylor was hated by the human relations schools and its followers such as McGregor and the work redesign literature begun by Herzberg and Hackman and Oldham. Perhaps the best tribute to Taylor is by the Marxist Harry Braverman, who in "Labor and Monopoly Capital" says that the chief theory of management in application (when he was writing back in the 1970s) was scientific management, and the human relations school and HRM were window dressing. I don't think that's so, but many of the reflexes of modern managers, including HR practices, are reflections of scientific management.  The system wasn't adopted in total, but its elements are everywhere. Examples of its pervasive influence are the widespread emphasis on incentives (agency theory can be viewed as derivative of Taylor); job analysis in HR; departmentalization and the functional management form; the use of academic credits in universities (which was invented by a Taylor associate); management by objectives and the body of the work of Peter Drucker, who was heavily influenced by Taylor; goal setting (see the body of work by Locke and Latham); and such elements of HR as training, staffing, and testing. When there were discussions of how to reform universities in the early twentieth century, the chief power broker, Henry S. Pritchett, former president of MIT and head of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, relied heavily on Taylor's group to conceptualize how to reform universities, and the American model has become dominant throughout the world. The histories of the Carnegie Foundation and its role in formulating universities tell the story.
7 Recommendations

All Answers (20)

14th Apr, 2016
Suzanne J. Wood
Miami Herbert Business School University of Miami
Consider Taylorism in the organization theory context -- scientific management. There is one best way to do anything: shoveling gravel, building a car, or even tying a shoe. Taylorism has been extended into quality management literature by way of Lean and/or Six Sigma processes and their derivatives (e.g., electronic 5s principles). Now, extend the concepts of reducing variation (and waste) in any process -- as with on-boarding or orientation training in HRM. The literature to support Taylorism in HRM will be found in the process improvement and efficiency literature.
1 Recommendation
15th Apr, 2016
Olivier Serrat
Chicago School of Professional Psychology
In 1994–1995, Sumantra Ghoshal—an Indian organizational theorist—published with Christopher Bartlett a trilogy of articles on Changing the Role of Top Management. (Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1994) (Ghoshal and Bartlett, 1995) (Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1995) The first, Beyond Strategy to Purpose, set the scene and argued that purpose—not strategy—is the reason an organization exists. In that and in the other two pieces, they recommended that organizations should move beyond strategy, structure, and systems to a framework built on purpose, processes, and people. They reckoned that a fatal flaw of the traditional strategy–structure–systems construct—which of course owes to Taylorism and scientific management mindsets—is the intention to minimize the idiosyncrasies of human behavior. They recommended (i) less emphasis on following clear strategic plans, and more importance to defining engaging purposes; (ii) less focus on formal structures, and more attention to effective processes; and (iii) less concern for control through systems, and more appreciation of capabilities and perspectives.
1 Recommendation
15th Apr, 2016
Okechukwu Amah
Lagos Business School
Taylorism assumes there is one best way of doing a job, and so set out to find and institutionalize this one best way. Employees are assumed to function most effectively when made to follow strictly this one best method and are not expected to make any valuable contribution to how job was done. Thus, employees are treated as robots who do not and cannot make any contribution to the way their job is structured and executed. It is not used today in HRM because its assumption of human nature is faulty and does not represent what empirical studies found out about human nature and the nature of work.   
1 Recommendation
15th Apr, 2016
Arup Barman
Assam University
Does  application of HR Analytics and Business Analytics is not similar to Taylorism?
15th Apr, 2016
Piero Caceres-Diaz
Escuela de Administración de Negocios para Graduados
Knowledge has a process. I think Taylorism was fundamentar in the development of theory in HR. Of course, many practices are valid in order to make processes mor efficien, but better practices start to gain protagonism.
Deleted profile
Taylorism or scientific management is an idea which is now 100 years old and was not really intented as such by Frederick Taylor (who was more sympathetic towards workers than his countless followers and pupils, who made "Taylorism" into that Boogeyman it is today)
At first there was Taylorism which attempted to maximize productivity of workers with no regard for their well-being. 
Than Human RELATIONS came along as a sort of a "antidote" to Taylorism. The main problem with the original HR was that, just as Taylorism was  centered only around productivity, HR was centered only around people and nothing more.
Modern Human Ressources merge both ideas (being about human beings and caring about their well-being but still not oblivious to the fact that work is about producing goods...).
Taylorism in its pure form is inhumane since it defines workers as idiots who have to be told what to do and which are a ressource which has to be exploited, and causes long-term damage to workers. Taylorism mostly cares about work PROCESSES.
In fact all those concerns about Taylorism are justified (it has some merits - see above - but only if you merge it with traditional HR)
In its pure form its mostly used today by backward-minded engineers (who are somewhat the "kings" of Taylorism since Taylor believed them to be the "brains" of the "machine" who did the thinking for all those stupid workers) who have no regard for their fellow co-workers.
1 Recommendation
18th Apr, 2016
Satish Kalra
Great Lakes Institute of Management,Gurgaon
In my view as we move from manual blue collar work force driven economy to knowledge driven economy, Taylor ism in its traditional sense is no longer relevant. With the advancement of technology, the manufacturing industry itself has undergone a sea change where with automation the profile of the workforce itself has changed. As an illustration, for instance even if one takes the IT industry, many of us would recall that during the days of mainframe systems we used to have workforce like computer operators, punch card operators etc. who used to do routine monotonous jobs. Taylor ism & some principles of Scientific Management were more applicable to those kind of jobs and work force to reduce boredom. In knowledge driven economy where such jobs have reduced significantly, Taylor ism in its traditional sense is perhaps no longer relevant even in manufacturing industry.       
1 Recommendation
18th Apr, 2016
Suzanne J. Wood
Miami Herbert Business School University of Miami
Dismissing Taylor's ideas out of hand does little to acknowledge the contributions of his work to the larger body of knowledge. Consider that operations management has roots in Taylorism, and draws from the perspective a number of beneficial concepts: business process management, streamlining, continuous process improvement, etc. Several responses here specify the evolutionary timeline beginning with Taylor's work and extending it through the modern era...nicely done.
19th Apr, 2016
Frank Burchill
Keele University
I keep trying, but it does not register.
20th Apr, 2016
Jaharkanti Dattagupta
Novel Group of Institutes
Relevance of  Taylorism in the context of HRM, is questionable. Although F. W. Taylor's 'scientific management' eliminated the 'rule of thumbs' and introduced his best production process, including the most efficient production through time study, he dehumanized the workers. He spoiled the creativity of the workers by making them only responsible for job execution and denying them participation in planning process. Taylor's managers were only job planners and not the creators of conducive work culture and not team managers.. Taylor believed only in monetary motivation through incentive schemes, and  not in other forms of motivation which is not in keeping with present day HRM. Organization is an entity defined by its membership ( employees ), structure and its vision. Organizational culture dives the organizational performance through formation of cohesive team, empowerment, recognition and participation. The early twentieth century Taylorism is not relevant in its entirety in the twenty first century. 
20th Apr, 2016
Mitchell Langbert
City University of New York - Brooklyn College
Taylorism permeates virtually all management thinking. It is like asking what is the influence of Newton and Einstein on physics.  One difference is that Taylor was hated by the human relations schools and its followers such as McGregor and the work redesign literature begun by Herzberg and Hackman and Oldham. Perhaps the best tribute to Taylor is by the Marxist Harry Braverman, who in "Labor and Monopoly Capital" says that the chief theory of management in application (when he was writing back in the 1970s) was scientific management, and the human relations school and HRM were window dressing. I don't think that's so, but many of the reflexes of modern managers, including HR practices, are reflections of scientific management.  The system wasn't adopted in total, but its elements are everywhere. Examples of its pervasive influence are the widespread emphasis on incentives (agency theory can be viewed as derivative of Taylor); job analysis in HR; departmentalization and the functional management form; the use of academic credits in universities (which was invented by a Taylor associate); management by objectives and the body of the work of Peter Drucker, who was heavily influenced by Taylor; goal setting (see the body of work by Locke and Latham); and such elements of HR as training, staffing, and testing. When there were discussions of how to reform universities in the early twentieth century, the chief power broker, Henry S. Pritchett, former president of MIT and head of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, relied heavily on Taylor's group to conceptualize how to reform universities, and the American model has become dominant throughout the world. The histories of the Carnegie Foundation and its role in formulating universities tell the story.
7 Recommendations
24th Apr, 2016
Amer Ali Al-Atwi
Al Muthanna University
Dear
The main problem to Taylorism, human relational, and other schools are based on notion of ONE BEST WAY. But this do not mean that we give up contributions of these schools. 
25th Apr, 2016
Debi S. Saini
Formerly Professor of HRM Management Development Institute
Taylorism was rational management as per management's thinking of command and control. It does not envisage any kind of countervailing power of employees. Even as there is so much talk of empowerment model of managing people today, it is a hard fact that most employers in the developing world are still highly tayloristic. It might get diluted over the years as the pressure of competition increases on them still more. But it is there to stay for some time.
2 Recommendations
22nd Jul, 2016
Hindy Lauer Schachter
New Jersey Institute of Technology
The key issue in Taylor's work is using knowledge to make organizational decisions. Doesn't every manager privilege expertise? No. Many decisions are made by rote--we have always done this. Many decisions are made because oen person has hierarchical power and can command a particular outcome. Arguing that expertise should be a resource for power butts heads with people whose power comes from hierarchical standing or wealth. The core of Taylor's work, therefore, often invites controversy.
1 Recommendation
23rd Jan, 2017
Harsh Jain
University of Liverpool
Yes, i believe taylorism is still relevant in this era. not completely but partially. you walk into McDonals store nearby and you can see they practice a little of Scientific management where they are instructed about their work (clearly laid procedures). and all the McDonalds store throughout the world undertake any simple task like mopping and cleaning the same way (one best way). Also note the Foxxcon Industries located in china which manufactures electronic parts for Apple, HP etc have their Procedures which can be closely resembled to the practice of Scientific Management.  
23rd Jan, 2017
Frank Burchill
Keele University
Taylorism is just as relevant as it always was. It also has quite beneficial effects.
1 Recommendation
5th May, 2017
Masese FRED Omete
The Co-operative University of kenya
The idea of Taylorism is of great importance since it sets the base for the present knowledge hence you can not do away with the foundation of theory, therefore we need to expand the horizon of thinking to suit the change and test of time.
5th May, 2018
Arup Barman
Assam University
Fordism is another management theory which has its roots based on the theory of scientific management. The theory combined the idea of the moving assembly line together with Taylor's systems of division of labour and piece rate payment. With Fordism, jobs are automated or broken down into unskilled or semi-skilled tasks. The pace of the continuous flow assembly line dictates work. Overall scientific management seems to be an incomplete system, which managers try to complete today by using some elements and integrate it with other theories for example Maslow's hierarchy and Herzberg's theory. Scientific Management is still very much a part of any organisation in the 21st Century. Its strengths in creating a divide between management functions and work functions have been employed widely at all levels and in all industries. In addition its strengths in making organisations efficient through replacement of "rules of thumb" with scientific fact have insured its widespread application. Now that all modern organisations work on a factual basis and all of them have managerial and employee structures competition is controlled by other factors outside the boundary of Scientific Management. Modern organisations prioritise social factors such as employee initiative, loyalty and adaptability alongside efficiency. For this reason, Taylor's claim that workers are solely concerned with monetary reward and that every motion of work needs to be controlled from above seems outdated, untrue, and impractical.
It is still relevant for management in developing countries. As there are more numbers of developing economics than the developed few, so Taylor-ism and Ford-ism is still relevant to the world.
6th May, 2018
Hindy Lauer Schachter
New Jersey Institute of Technology
It is not accurate to say that Taylor never thought workers could be motivated outside economic rewards. At one point he suggested that if workers came up with good suggestions to improve efficiency, the plant should use the suggestion and name the new approach after the worker who made the suggestion. Such naming shows that Taylor understood that esteem and publicity can reward workers.
1 Recommendation

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