After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Essence of Scientific Management 2. Significance of Scientific Management 3. Limitations.

Essence of Scientific Management:

Taylor advocated that principles of scientific management could succeed only if there was ‘complete mental revolution’. Rather than management and workers having conflict with each other over sharing of organisational profits, mental revolution aimed at fusion of interests of labour and management.

It calls for a complete change in the outlook of management and workers towards each other. Both management and workers should have complete understanding of the quantity and quality of work to be achieved within a given time period and try to achieve that target.

Managers should plan, organise, lead and control organisational operations and workers should execute them to secure maximum efficiency. Both should, thus, try to increase production and share their interests of maximum profits and maximum wages.


Taylor advocated mental revolution on the part of both the employers and employees. He said,”… in its essence, scientific management involves a complete mental revolution on the part of the working men engaged in any particular establishment or industry—a complete mental revolution on the part of these men as to their duties toward their work, toward their fellowmen, and toward their employers. And it involves the equal complete mental revolution on the part of those on the managements’ side—the foreman, the superintendent, the owner of the business, the board of directors—a complete mental revolution on their part as to their duties toward their fellow workers in the management, toward their workmen, and toward all of their daily problems. And without this complete mental revolution on both sides scientific management does not exist. That is the essence of scientific management—this great mental revolution.”

Significance of Scientific Management:

Taylor’s theory has the following positive attributes:

1. Better management:

This theory gained wide popularity in the managerial world, in both business and non-business organisations. It introduced better management through scientific methods such as work study, incentive plans, rest hours etc.


2. Optimum allocation of resources:

Scientific management eliminates wasteful time and motions in performing various activities. It introduced time and motion studies to increase contribution to organisational goals. He discovered workers’ true capacity and provided ‘a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage’.

3. Scientific approach:

It emphasised on scientific selection, education and development of workers so that problem-solving is not based on random decision-making. It advocated selection on the basis of job requirements. Selection of right person for the right job is the basis of this theory. Training methods are also scientifically designed to develop workers to perform the jobs they are best suited for.


4. Work specialisation:

He identified planning and execution as two distinct jobs. People responsible for planning and execution belong to separate departments. Instructions are given by foremen specialised in their areas. This results in smooth business operations.

5. Mental revolution:

He advocated mental revolution on the part of both employers and employees. This revolution changed the attitude of management and workers towards their work.


6. Productivity:

Better management and optimum allocation of resources result in high productivity, high profits and high wages. It, thus, improves economic performance of both management and workers.

7. Harmonious relationships:

Since management and workers cooperate with each other, relationship between the two tends to be harmonious. It reduces interpersonal conflicts and promotes unity of action.


8. Improved standards of living:

Improved profits and wages improve the living standards of managers and workers.

9. Industrial prosperity:

High productivity, profits and wages promote industrial peace. This promotes industrial prosperity and image in international markets.


10. Incentive for high production:

Rather than treating all workers at par, the theory rewards efficient workers (those who produce more than the standard output) by paying them a higher rate and lower rate to inefficient workers (those who produce less than the standard output). This motivates workers to increase efficiency in order to make financial gains.

11. Job satisfaction:

Scientific methods, order in the areas of production planning, analysis of costs, wage systems, rest pauses etc. are used to promote job satisfaction amongst workers.

Limitations of Scientific Management:


Despite important developments in the scientific management theory, critics offer the following arguments against the theory:

1. Over-emphasis on economic needs:

Taylor focused only on physical and economic needs of workers. He overlooked the importance of social and ego needs that affect their behaviour. Taylor viewed workers as mere factors of production and not human beings with social and emotional ties.

2. Loss of jobs:

His theory was opposed by workers and labour unions as they felt that scientific ways would increase production but reduce the work force. Workers believed that if they adopted Taylor’s work methods, they would lose their jobs.

Efficient methods of production will lead to same work being performed by lesser number of workers. The possible threat of lay offs made workers and union suspicious about adopting scientific methods of production. They increasingly felt they would lose their jobs if they adopted the scientific methods.


3. Monotony:

Focus on scientific ways of performing the job (standardisation), task planning etc. can make work monotonous as workers work along pre-defined lines of action and lose interest in jobs. The work becomes so routinized that workers do not use their initiative and creativity in performing better.

4. Discrimination amongst workers:

Differential wage rate system distinguishes between efficient and inefficient workers on the basis of standard output. It leads to conflicts amongst workers, promotes labour resentment and increases labour absenteeism.

5. Narrow view:

It has a narrow view of management which focuses on efficiency at the shop level. Management of the whole organisation is not taken into account.


6. No best way of doing work:

Though scientific management advocated ‘best way’ of doing the job, there can never be the best way of doing any work. New concepts and theories develop and open ways for better management techniques.

7. Opposition by trade unions:

Scientific wage rate systems and incentive plans leave very little or no scope to bargain with management for better wage structure. Trade unions, thus, oppose this theory.

8. Unsuitable for small firms:

Scientific management theory is unsuitable for small firms because of their inability to invest huge funds in developing scientific methods of production. Small firms are, thus, deprived of the benefits of scientific management.


9. Irrational:

Increase in wages is linked with increase in output. Factors like innovativeness, creativity, participation in decision-making processes is altogether ignored. It promotes workers to become producing machines rather than important organs of the organisation.

As against the criticisms, it is asserted that Taylor never overlooked these facts. Instead, the very idea of scientific management was to select the right worker for the right job so that workers get satisfaction of performing the job they are best suited for.

Taylor’s ideas are practiced in the modern management world. His work on scientific management replaced the ‘Rule of Thumb’ and brought order and logic in production planning, analysis of costs, wage system etc. which are vital elements of the modern management. However, though scientific management is widely used, it is not universally applicable to all organisations.