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Frederick W. Taylor's Scientific Management - Part 1

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

Within the work of Taylor there are enough conceptual evidences and practical applications which define this author as an Engineer who pretended, and could apply in the workshops, a mechanicist methodology fruit of the application of exact sciences: math and physics. Despite of the criticisms that would be later be made to him, he reached important achievements, at least in his fist stages, establishing order where there wasn't before and establishing new forms of work where the rationality, fruit of those sciences, produced an increase of the factory related productivity and of the businesses' earnings.

Taylor's work

According to Scheid -author we will continue seeing later- "Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) was born in the Unites States in a financially well-of family". After working for four years as a mechanic apprentice in a small company, in 1878 he entered to the fabric Midvale Steel as a worker (time in which he got his Engineer's Degree) where he did a fast career until he became, precisely, an engineer of the company. Since 1889 he started working as an advisor, being one of his most renowned works the one he did for Bethlehem Steel Co.
He applied exact sciences in a methodical way to solve the fabric problems, and according to Merrill, from these analysis he developed, in an order way, a group of principles that could substitute the empirical methods which were in use in that time. This compiler who gives Taylor's work a relevant importance, transcribes in his book three works from this author (there were other works, most of them dedicated specifically to the engineering field, including one which gave Taylor an important fame in such field, which was about the fast metal's cutting process). Merrill includes, in his compilation, several works which refer specifically to the "Scientific Management" created by this author, which are -in the chronological order in which they were presented- the following:

- Shop Management, which was presented in 1903 during a meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (A.S.M.E.).
- The Principles of Scientific Management, is the transcription of a speech pronounced in October 1911 in the Dartmouth College.
- An extract of Taylor's testimony to the special research commission of the Chamber of Representatives in January 1012.

Shop Management (1903)

In this work Taylor explains in a somehow brief but concrete way, the methods he implanted to apply his so-called Scientific Management:

- The Study of Time which each task and each one of the movements that compose it imply, allowed him to measure the amount of daily work a worker could do, which then became established as standard.

"This, will be paying attention to you all day with a stopwatch. It will time you, count the shovelfuls, and tell you what you have to do. IT is not necessary for you to hurry, just work at your normal pace. But if any of you tries to be lazy, this will be the end. We will discover it as surely as that now is daytime and we will fire you from here".
F. W. Taylor

- This was established studying and timing the performance of outstanding workers.

"Never examine other than a first class worker. I think I can explain it better speaking of something we all are familiarized with. We know very little about the workers, but it would be difficult than one of us who are here didn't know much about horses.
...I don't think anyone would choose a trotting horse or would call it first class. This is what I mean when I say first class worker."

- The payment per day of work is eliminated. Once the standard was established, the worker was paid according to his performance.

- According to Taylor, the fundamental motivational element, and practically exclusive, of the Scientific Management, was the amount of money the worker would receive, changing his remuneration per day of work and replacing it with a remuneration directly related to his performance.

- The method was, at the same time, strengthened by the standardized establishment of machines, tools, and instruments specific for each kind of task, which would make work more agile.

- In his subsequent work "Scientific Management Principles" Taylor clarifies that at the beginning of the work day, each worker would find in his locker two color filling cards (is important to keep in mind that there was a high level of illiteracy), where it was established how much he had earned the previous day (as a specific motivational element) and what work he would have to do in the day that was beginning:
a) White color: meant that, in the previous day, the worker had fulfilled the standard
b) Otherwise it was yellow, which would alert him about his non-fulfillment.

- Eight workshop bosses or functional foremen would be established, instead of the classic one foreman, each one of whom would provide specialized instructions to each worker on specific aspects of the work: tools to use, set times and work measurement, etc.

Taylor explains that "Intentionally, the tasks would be set to be so hard that only one every five workers (perhaps a percentage even lower than this) could keep up with it." If the workers "...failed they were out" (of the company) this means they were fired, "...but without hard feelings towards the system or the management" (of the company). - Business Management - Business Administration


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