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Taylorism is also referred to as scientific management and it is an efficient production method that breaks each action task or job into small units which can be taught and analyzed easily. Taylorism was introduced in the early 20th century with objectives of getting maximum job breakdown so as to minimize the skills required and the learning time. It differentiates between direct and indirect labor, brings in precise measurements to replace rule of this productivity among others (Taylor, 1911).
Taylorism was named after its founding father Fredrick Winslow Taylor who emphasized getting maximum efficiency from machines as well as workers and to maximize profits for both the workers and management to benefit.
Taylorism enforced its standards of methods, it adopted the best working conditions and enforced that this was very much possible. Taylor believed that it was possible to transfer control from workers to the management. His objective was to distinguish between manual and mental labor. He advised that, management should formulate detailed plans that were to specify a job and how it is done, and then communicate it to the workers. The introduction of this system provoked many strikes like that of Watertown Arsenal that later led to congressional investigation. According to Taylor, laborers were to be paid according to the amount of work they did, this made some workers earn more than those under conventional management. This created a lot of enmity between him and factory owners who were not using scientific management (Taylor, 1911).
Taylor developed speed and feed calculating slide rules which are still used today in most machine shops. Taylor’s work influenced Henri Fayol who emphasizes organizational structure in management in his work. He studies the workers actions, then the effects of their actions on productivity and develops new methods for making them to be more efficient.
Taylorism laid the ground for automation because he analyzed processes into discrete and unambiguous pieces which are used even today by computers and unskilled people to follow algorithms which are designed by others, to make decisions within their own executions.
Taylor viewed workers as complex and anybody who manages large team can agree him that, workers cannot be relied upon for talent or intelligence which are scarce resources, but he failed to leave room for talented and intelligent workers (Taylor, 1911).
Explain how the issues that Heilbroner discusses in our reading,” the impact of industrial technology “help to illuminate the experiences of people in the type of social situation and work environment created by Taylorism/scientific management.
Taylorism came with a lot of problems especially to the social life of human beings. Sociologically; individuals, groups, social relations, family and the organization of the society as a whole has suffered many consequences as a result of scientific management. Pre-industrial societies practised agriculture exclusively, but today’s industrial society is a mixture of activities. Those who are not involved in agricultural work are out to extend social patterns, technology, and culture among others (Heilbroner, 2006).
Pre-industrial societies had strong social relationships which were very informal, flexible and negotiable as compared to today’s industrial society which has formal, rigid and contractual relationships. Most people in the pre-industrial society possessed multiple skills for earning a living. For instance, one could be a carpenter, a potter, and a farmer but with Taylorism, one has to specialize in one area of work like, engineering or nursing.
Pre-industrial communities were bonded by many common aspects among its members and they performed similar activities, they had similar world views and experiences. Many of its activities rotated around the extended family which is not the case in Taylorism.
The technological society no longer values the extended family, today children grow up to become adults without knowing their grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Many people possessed what was enough to survive unlike today where people get a lot of surplus which leads to stratifications and inequalities which in turn brings about jealousy and enmity weakening the social ties (Heilbroner, 2006).
The family was the core unit in production, socialization, locus of spiritual life, protection and education. Today the case is different because we have institutions responsible for transmitting these values. For example the school which offers education and the church which is responsible for spiritual life.
Economic activities were not different from other spheres of life and life was not dominated by one’s job or money as it is the case today, rather it was about struggling to live. The industrial society has changed the “we” feeling to “me” feeling and that is why the extended family is no longer valued (Wrege & Amadeo, 1974).
Have you had any experiences in settings or involving processes that have in any way been organized a long Taylorism like principles?
It was about a certain self help group that came to my village to assist the orphans and vulnerable children and I was one of them. I thought this is an informal group but its workers were too scientific in their way of doing things.
According to the rules of the group, we were required to report for training every day, uniformly dressed and on time. Each member was allocated a specific course of specialization and there were professionals who had come along to train us. Some times this training required us to stay away from our families over long periods of time and we could be only given an off of just two days to go and visit our families. This went on like this for two years and it was difficult to cope with.
While in class, we were required to observe many rules like; the sitting position, eye focus, there were formulas for answering questions in class, among others.
Generally, this group involved a lot of scientific principles which I found to be quite challenging before I coped up much later (Drucker, 1974).