Using Frederick Taylor's Theory of Scientific Management to Improve Telecommunication Installation Term Paper

Pages: 15 (4856 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 17  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Management

Scientific Management

Managers are concerned with controlling, directing, organizing and planning activities for their employees. Over the course of the twentieth century, various management theories were developed which attempted to assist managers in these fundamental endeavors. While some of these theories have been largely discarded, they merit study in order to understand how managers approach the function of managing. An approach like Scientific Management can be applied to scientific management theory can improve processes like the installation process of a telecommunication installation company (INCO Tech Inc.).

Today's business environment is rapidly changing. Technology has entered the workplace to a degree never before seen, and the interaction between humans and machines is changing the very nature of work. Increasingly, machines are being used not only to perform tasks which are dangerous for humans, but tasks which cannot be done as quickly or as effectively human beings. The result is that today's workers are different in their knowledge, skills and expectations than the workers of the Industrial Age, which means that different approaches to management are necessary, and that different challenges now face managers.

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Understanding the characteristics of the high-technology organization, with its rapid rate of change, its global orientation, and its shift away from managers as monitors to an environment of managers as leaders is critical if high-technology organizations are to prosper. In addition, traditional human resource considerations, such as compensation and retention, often become the responsibility of the operational manager in a high-technology organization.

Term Paper on Using Frederick Taylor's Theory of Scientific Management to Improve Telecommunication Installation Assignment

Management in the American workplace grew out of the manufacturing environment that emerged as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Productivity was measured by how much a worker produced, and managers monitored and controlled employees' time and tasks. Over the course of the twentieth century, the roles of managers involved to include planning and evaluating, and managers became leaders as well as monitors, in some situations. In the last years of the twentieth century, the workplace was transformed by the Internet, electronic commerce and technological innovation. The American economy was increasingly service-oriented rather than product-oriented, and managers struggled to adapt to the new environment. This research considers the evolution of management thought (which shapes how managers relate to workers) and considers how management in a high-technology environment differs from management in a traditional environment.

What Is Management?

According to Hitt, Middlemist and Mathis (1989), management is the "effective and efficient integration and coordination of resources to achieve desired objectives" (p. 13). Objectives support an organization's overriding mission and vary over the short-term; missions themselves tend to be consistent over long periods of time (thus a hospital's mission might be to provide health care services to the local community while its objectives might include having an 80% occupancy rate).

The term "effective" refers to how well an organization reaches its objectives in a particular period of time, while "efficient" refers to how well it uses its resources. Thus an organization which has as its objective selling 100 widgets per day and which in fact does so can be said to be "effective," but if the organization cannot realize a profit doing so, it is not effective. Finally, "resources" are the various inputs (people, capital, technology, vendors, time and even customers) which are part of the process used by the organization (Hitt, Middlemist & Mathis, 1989, p. 14).

Within this broad definition of management, there are various types of managers. Some of these (often called supervisors or first-line managers) coordinate the work of nonsupervisory employees and report to middle managers (in larger organizations) or executives (in smaller organizations). First-line managers deal with day-to-day operational issues. Middle managers link executives and supervisors and typically only supervise individuals who, in turn, supervise others. Executives are concerned with long-term strategic planning and broad issues; these issues are communicated to middle managers who translate the broad vision of the executive team into objectives that can be achieved by supervisors (Hitt, Middlemist & Mathis, 1989).

In order to understand the role of managers and the function of management in a high-technology organization, it is necessary to understand the various roles that managers have within an organization. Managers (depending on their level and responsibility within an organization) organize, control, direct, plan and make decisions. They might also develop a strategic vision, create a mission (either for the company as a whole or their area of responsibility) and provide leadership to those around them. Managers typically have sought various ways to improve how they perform these tasks, and scholars as well as management analysts have committed a significant amount of resources toward helping managers improve their performance by presenting various approaches to management techniques (Hitt, Middlemist & Mathis, 1989).

Frederick W. Taylor

Frederick Winslow Taylor was born in Philadelphia in 1856. He prepared for college at Philips Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, and was accepted at Harvard. After his eyesight failed, he became an industrial apprentice in the depression of 1873, one of the two major depressions in this country prior to the Great Depression in the 1930s. At Exeter, he was influenced by the classification system invented by Melvil Dewey in 1872 (known today as the Dewey Decimal System). In 1878, Taylor became a machine shop laborer at Midvale Steel Company. He wrote a book in which he described some of his promotions to gang-boss, foreman, and finally, chief engineer. He introduced time-motion studies in 1881 following ideas of Frank B. And Lillian M. Gilbreth, strong personalities who immortalized in books by their dozen children, such as Cheaper by the Dozen. In 1883, Taylor earned a degree by night study from Stevens Institute of Technology, an institution which today archives his papers and has announced plans to put them online soon. Taylor became general manager of Manufacturing Investment Company in 1890, and he was then made a consulting engineer to management.

Taylor wrote about his ideas and was influential as a result. However, though his ideas were clearly enunciated in his writings, they were also widely misinterpreted as employers did such things as use time and motion studies simply to extract more work from employees at less pay. Unions condemned such practices and noted the lack of voice in they had in their work, blaming what they called "Taylorism" for this. Quality and productivity declined when Taylor's principles were simplistically implemented in this fashion. His influence, though, has been evident in the discipline. Modern management theorists such as Edward Deming often credit Taylor with creating the principles upon which they act to this day. There are others, though, such as Juran, who continue to denigrate Taylor's work. For one thing, modern theorists generally place more emphasis on worker input and teamwork than was usual in much of Taylor's time. A more careful reading of Taylor's work, though, shows that he placed the worker's interest as high as the employer's in his studies and that he recognized the importance of such things as the suggestion box in a machine shop to increase worker participation ("Frederick W. Taylor" eldred.ne.mediaone.net).

The beginnings of Taylor's ideas can be found in stories he tells in his writings about his period at Exeter. He cites George a. Wentworth, a professor of mathematics, and Taylor wondered at the time how Wentworth could give a lesson that always took Taylor two hours to get. He finally discovered how Wentworth did it:

Mr. Wentworth would sit with his watch always hid behind a ledge on his desk, and while we knew it was there we did not know what the darn thing was for (Wrege & Greenwood, 1991, p. 5).

Through observation, Taylor found that Wentworth would test to discover how many minutes it took the average boy in the class to do an example he would give, and Wentworth would then time himself when he first tackled these problems. He would get a ratio of change to get the class working at a proper pace: "That was the first instance of time study of mental operation which I have ever seen" (Wrege & Greenwood, 1991, p. 5).

Many of Taylor's experiences served to add to his understanding of management and of issues related to time and motion. His work at the Midvale plant was among the most important in shaping his view of management and in developing his theories. He was made superintendent of machine shops when he was only 23, leading to some resistance on the part of men he had worked with before:

The resistance offered by the men when he demanded more work gave Taylor his first problem as an executive and in this role he reverted to the characteristics engendered in him by his mother. Just as his mother demanded work and discipline, Taylor demanded work from his men, disciplining them if he believed they did not work to their full capacity (Wrege & Greenwood, 1991, p. 31).

Taylor's first important writing came in 1893 with a paper presented to the American society of mechanical Engineers -- "Notes on Belting." He also wrote about his differential piece rate… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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