Frederick Taylor: Theories, Principles & Contributions to Management

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Frederick Taylor was an inventor, an engineer, and the father of scientific management theory. You will learn about Frederick Taylor, scientific management, and its effects on industrial management in this lesson.

Frederick Taylor and Scientific Management

Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) was an American inventor and engineer that applied his engineering and scientific knowledge to management and developed a theory called scientific management theory. His two most important books on his theory are Shop Management (1903) and The Principles of Scientific Management (1911).

Frederick Taylor's scientific management theory can be seen in nearly all modern manufacturing firms and many other types of businesses. His imprint can be found in production planning, production control, process design, quality control, cost accounting, and even ergonomics. If you understand the principles of scientific management, you will be able to understand how manufacturers produce their goods and manage their employees. You will also understand the importance of quantitative analysis, or the analysis of data and numbers to improve production effectiveness and efficiency.

Principles of Scientific Management Theory

In broad terms, scientific management theory is the application of industrial engineering principles to create a system where waste is avoided, the process and method of production is improved, and goods are fairly distributed. These improvements serve the interests of employers, employees, and society in general. Taylor's theory can be broken down into four general principles for management:

  1. Actively gathering, analyzing, and converting information to laws, rules, or even mathematical formulas for completing tasks.
  2. Utilizing a scientific approach in the selection and training of workers.
  3. Bringing together the science and the worker so that the workers apply the scientifically developed techniques for the task.
  4. Applying the work equally between workers and managers where management applies scientific techniques to planning and the workers perform the tasks pursuant to the plans.

Frederick Taylor approached the study of management quantitatively through the collection and analysis of data. For example, he and his followers performed motion studies to improve efficiency. He analyzed the motions required to complete a task, devised a way to break the task down into component motions, and found the most efficient and effective manner to do the work.

An example of a motion study is observing the number of distinct motions required to shovel coal into a furnace. The task is then broken down into its distinct components, such as picking up the shovel, walking to the coal, bending over, manipulating the shovel to scoop the coal, bending back up, walking to the furnace, and manipulating the shovel to deposit the coal. The most efficient way to perform the task was developed and workers were instructed on how to apply the method.

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