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Frederick Taylor’s influence in contemporary management Essay

The theories of Frederick W. Taylor’s Scientific Management proposed in Edwin A. Locke’s (1982) “The Ideas of Frederick W. Taylor An evaluation” point to Taylor’s tremendous influence on modern-day management. Because Taylor developed this principle in the early 1900’s focusing mainly on scientific decision-making and individualized work while working with manufacturing industry, it poses questions on it’s validity in the modern-day management and how effective his techniques in employer-employee relationship. this posed a lot of Locke indicates that Taylor’s Scientific Management theory led to the beginning of modern management principles and methods that are still being used by many managers around the world (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg & Coulter, 2012).

There are 2 key elements of his theory – that is scientific Decision-making and management-labor cooperation. Locke (1982) provided a summary of these concepts wherein he agreed that most of Taylor’s philosophies and techniques in these 2 aspects are widely embraced in the management industry.

1. Scientific Decision-Making
a. Time and Motion Study
i. Taylor arrived at this technique facing challenges on efficiency in the manufacturing industries with the goal to increase profits (Kulesza et al., 2011).

b. Standardization
i. This focused on creating standard tools and procedures

c. Goal-setting
i. Originally called the task and believed to be the model used for development of Management by Objectives (MBO) technique by Pierre Dupont and the term Organizational Behavior modification (OB Mod)

d. Money as a motivator

i. Taylor believes that workers are motivated with the reward of money.

e. Management’s responsibility for training
i. Is a technique that advocates management experts are responsible for training of workers.

f. Scientific selection
i. To achieve efficiency and expectations, Taylor developed the idea of ‘first-class laborer’ (Zuffo, 2011)

g. Shorter work week and rest pauses
i. The pig iron handlers experiment lead Taylor to conclude that employees needs rest in between the working hours to be more productive.

2. Management and Labor Relationship
a. This involves the Individualized work technique wherein Taylor opposed the power of group work rather he believed that Individual task is the most effective way for employees to perform their jobs.

Taylor’s scientific approach did not escape criticisms from other theorists. One of the known accusations of his works is treating employees as machines and his antiunionism (Locke, 1982). Also, the theory of human interaction developed by Mary Parker Follett is one of the principles that opposes his Individualized work technique. Follett argues that people working in groups results in greater creativity and moderation of behavior (Fox, 1968). Peter Drucker’s management by objective (MBO) concept also shows an opposition on his works. His proposal includes employees’ engagement in goal-setting (Vohra & Mukul, 2009).

Despite earning criticisms on his concept, Taylor’s contribution in the modern-day management is evident in different areas such as cost accounting and lean manufacturing. Kulesza et al., (2011) stated that Taylor’s concepts paved the way to the advancement of management accounting essential to the manufacturing industry and became the foundation of the Lean manufacturing most especially his time and motion technique.

Locke’s (1989) summary of Taylor’s principles presented a clearer view of the weight of his influence in the contemporary management. Despite the other theories that oppose some of Taylor’s concepts, no one will argue that his contribution to management is widely accepted. Given that the reason he developed the principle of scientific management is to achieve more productivity and profits which is the same goal of every company, that his concepts are developed to achieve this goal as the time advances. Also, there is no doubt that his work is used as a pattern in developing advanced concepts to fit the modern-day management as seen in Management Accounting.

The impact of his dictatorial role of the manager was to create resentment between employees and employer (Derksen, 2014) it is in this area of the role of management and the contribution of employees to decision-making that people like Follett and Drucker disagree with Taylor. By allowing employees to contribute creatively to decision-making is not only a way to increase production but also to improve employee relations.


Derksen, M. (2014). Turning Men Into Machines? Scientific Management, Industrial Psychology, And The “Human Factor”. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 50. 148 – 165. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.newcastle.edu.au/store/10.1002/jhbs.21650/asset/jhbs21650.pdf?v=1&t=i0273cql&s=2b430ae6922ccb1c82be31594b71a702658ccc15

Fox, E.M. (1968). Mary Parker Follet: The Enduring Contribution. Public Administration Review, 28, 520.

Kulesza, M. G., Weaver, P. Q., & Friedman, S. (2011). Frederick W. Taylor’s Presene in 21st Century Management Accounting Systems and Work Process Theories. Journal of Business and Management, 17, 105 – 119.

Locke, E.A. (1982). The Ideas of Frederick W. Taylor: An Evaluation. Academy of Management Review, 7, 14 – 24.

Robbins, S., Bergman, R., Stagg, I., & Coulter, M. (2012). Management, 6th Edition. Sydney, Australia: Pearson Australia. Vohra, N., & Mukul, K. (2009). Relevance of Peter Drucker’s Work: Celebrating Drucker’s 100th Birthday. The Journal for Decision Makers, 34, 1 – 7.

Wren, D.A. (2011). The Centennial of Frederick W. Taylor’s The Principles of
Scientific Management: A Retrospective Commentary. Journal of Business & Management, 17, 11 – 22.

Zuffo, R. G. (2011). Taylor is Dead, Hurray Taylor! The “Human Factor” in Scientific Management: Between Ethics, Scientific Psychology and Common Sense. Journal of Business and Management, 17, 23 – 41.

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