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Taylor’s Theory of Scientific Management and Its Relevance to Organizations


As a result of the industrial revolution and technological acceleration in the 18th and 19th centuries, the situation changed. In both small factories and large enterprises, management strategies established over the years required modernization and refinement. New organizational challenges have arisen due to an increase in the number of employees, in parallel with the complication of business processes. As the entrepreneur is primarily concerned with the profit received, it became apparent that ineffective management leads to significant losses. Rationalization in the management system was required to cut costs and increase profits. In the twentieth century, management psychology appeared; Frederick Taylor elaborated on the theory of Scientific Management and put forward several principles. Investigating productivity and work efficiency issues, Taylor made conclusions that can be considered relevant to this day, although the age of automation and technology introduces new management concepts.

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The Highlights of Taylor’s Theory

In the early stages, Taylor believed that it was necessary to introduce the principle of piece-rate wages to optimize production. The idea that an employee should be paid a salary directly if he takes the initiative in his work, which can be measured according to the system, was accepted (Robbins et al., 2019). Due to the experiment, the optimal ratio of the applied efforts and the results obtained was established; its essence was described in theory. Control is not of the most significant importance over labor productivity in the production process but over the methods used. In this regard, he develops practical recommendations for workers and sets new wage boundaries: minimum for easy work and highest for heavy one. Taylor analyzed his work from a scientific point of view at the final stage of the work on the theory. The idea of decentralizing management required establishing a new basis for control, taking into account the competence of employees. These included the time spent on labor, the determination of the labor intensity of a particular task, and the establishment of quality signs.

Criticism of the Theory

It can be traced that the entire Taylor system is aimed at improving production efficiency. Workers should work, Taylor believed, and managers should think (Dahlgaard-Park et al., 2018). These are fundamental goals that contribute to the organization’s effectiveness, but the requirements to achieve these goals, through a rigid order, a well-defined structure, and externally set standards, can lead to certain consequences. The inability of employees and leaders of the organization to flexibly adapt to changing external conditions is possible (Drucker, 2007). The main disadvantage of the Taylor system is that it was oriented towards the model of the economic person, i.e., a person whose main incentive to work is monetary reward. However, the realities of business relations began to refute its principles, and new directions of organizational psychology came to replace them.

The declared principles of trust between the manager and the employee and the actual implementation were questionable in the above theory, for which it was criticized. “Planning and vigilant control of a person” at every stage of labor did not in any way contribute to a kind-hearted relationship between workers and superiors (Trujillo, 2014, p. 209). Some considered the distinction between thinkers and performers established by Taylor’s theory unacceptable. What is more, detailed recommendations contributed to the fact that the spiritual side of labor remained in a lot of factory managers, and the worker himself was little interested in what he was doing and why.

Relevance of New Concepts

However, management thought develops with humanity, and new concepts have appeared, far from the primary theories. The most modern concepts suggest freedom of expression, interest in results, and synergy as the driving forces of the work process. For example, Google uses an unusual approach to human resource management. In the work environment, there is no regular control and strict rules; here, the basis of company management is “a laissez-faire approach often associated with agile management” (Ebert & Freibichler, 2017, p. 2). The control system is present; “through nudges and re-setting of rules,” the ability of employees to take responsibility and make decisions increases and stimulates their productivity (Ebert & Freibichler, 2017, p. 2). This is required by the modern digitalized environment, which is characteristic of our century. At the same time, it cannot be argued that Taylor’s theory has wholly lost its relevance over time. For most organizations, incentive continues to go ahead of motivation, and a rigid corporate system dominates synergy. Based on the most basic needs of Maslow’s pyramid, Taylor’s theory is universal and does not require a lot of mental work to implement.


To conclude, Taylor’s ideas and experiences had a revolutionary impact on the fundamental science of management, and the introduction of his theory changed the culture of work in American industry. Despite the universality of the theory and the possibility of using it in organizations in the 21st century, the need for new management paradigms is growing in parallel with the need for innovation. Since the main business areas now are digital and information technologies, new concepts require more freedom and creativity, which Taylor’s theory does not accept.


Dahlgaard-Park, S. M., Reyes, L., & Chen, C. K. (2018). The evolution and convergence of total quality management and management theories. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 29(9-10), 1108-1128. Web.

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Drucker, P. (2007). Management Challenges for the 21st Century (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Ebert, P., & Freibichler, W. (2017). Nudge management: applying behavioural science to increase knowledge worker productivity. Journal of organization Design, 6(1), 1-6. Web.

Robbins, S., Coulter, M., DeCenzo, D., Woods, M. (2019). Management: The essentials. P.Ed Australia.

Trujillo, T. (2014). The Modern Cult of Efficiency. Educational Policy, 28(2), 207–232. Web.

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