æThe increasing application of Scientific Manageme

This essay æThe increasing application of Scientific Manageme has a total of 2065 words and 13 pages.

æThe increasing application of Scientific Management principl

‘The increasing application of Scientific Management principles of work organisations to services is, despite its limitations, inevitable and irreversible’. Discuss.



Adam Cossey(c)

‘The increasing application of Scientific Management principles of work organisations to services is, despite its limitations, inevitable and irreversible’. Discuss.

I Introduction

From the outset of this essay it is necessary to define the basic principles of Scientific Management in order for the statement to be fully understood and why if at all such a practice is ‘inevitable’ and indeed ‘irreversible’ within a service industry context.

The underlying belief that scientific management, or rationalisation= , is able to provide the basis for separating management from the execution of work. ‘The rationalisation of work has the effect of transferring functions of planning, allocation and co-ordination to managers, whilst reinforcing the managerial monopoly of decision-making, motivation and control’. Hales (1994).

Taylor (1856-1915) has been referred to as the father of Scientific Management. He believed that management, not labour, was the cause of and potential solution to problems in the industry. Taylor concluded that workers systematically ‘soldiered’ because they believed that faster work would put them out of a job and because hourly or daily wages destroyed individual incentive. Taylor believed that in order to discourage, and indeed halt, this ‘soldiering’ a ‘mental revolution’ was required. He believed this could be achieved via four vital principles: (1) the development of the best work method, via systematic observation, measurement and analysis; (2) the scientific selection and development of workers; (3) the relating and bringing together of the best work method and the developed and trained worker; (4) the co-operation of managers and non-managers which includes the division of work and the managers responsibility of work.

From this five key facets have evolved that lie at the foundation of scientific management. Hales (1994) has summarised these as follows:
- systematic standardised work methods via mechanisation and standard times.
- a clean functional division between managers and non-mangers. Braverman (1974) described this as the ‘separation of conception from execution’.
- centralised planning and control.
- an instrumental, low-involvement employment relationship due to the requirement of the individual employee being that of just carrying out their specified low-skilled task.
- an ideology of neutral technical efficiency.

Industries that have embraced such scientific management methods have essentially deskilled the workforce, often by menial, repetitive tasks, and have attempted to replace workers with machines wherever technically feasible and economic. A classic example of such an application is the Fordist principle of the production line. The remainder of the essay concentrates on the two key aspects of the statement, i.e. that of inevitability and irreversibility.

II Are Scientific Management principles inevitable and irreversible within the service industry ?

It has been suggested that the principles of scientific management have been widely adopted throughout industry.

"The orientation of larger firms towards professional managers, engineers and consultants additionally provided a supportive framework for the rise of Taylorism".
Thompson and Hugh (1990)

Although this rise has certainly been evident within manufacturing industries the service industry has been slower to utilise the principles of rationalisation. The question must therefore be asked why has the sector been slow on the uptake of these beliefs and could the reason for this provide an argument against the suggestion of the ‘inevitability’ of the principles within the service industries.

For rationalisation to be applied three prerequisite conditions are required: clear and single objective (for example maximising profit); hard data ( for example accounting information); and no more than limited and measurable uncertainties (for example normally distributed machine parts). In general these three conditions do not hold in the service sector. Furthermore the quantities and the types of resources differ greatly from manufacturing industries. Within the service sector there is often more labour and less capital. This ‘human emphasis’ greatly limits the application of scientific management principles.

Targett (1995) has identified seven distinctive characteristics that highlight the limitations of applying scientific management principles and therefore raising doubts over the ‘inevitability’ of such management practices being used in the service sector.

- Measurement of output and performance is difficult. Quality of service cannot be measured solely by easily quantifiable data, such as revenue and sales volume alone. For example, the performance of a health care organisation is a combination not only of financial results and patient throughput but also of quality

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Topics Related to æThe increasing application of Scientific Manageme

Management, Process management, Manufacturing, Administration, Business, Scientific management, George Ritzer, Operations management, Rationalization

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