Scientific Management in Organizations


Scientific management has many advantages for today’s organizations, including a systematic approach. Fredrick Taylor is credited with being the Father of Scientific Management. He transformed the Industrial Revolution. In fact, this approach brought a lot of productivity. However, the difficulty with Scientific Management is that it requires sales managers to select employees that fit the job and train them effectively. Additionally, it increases the monotony of work. This reality could cause some salespeople to be uninspired in their jobs. 

Whereas the Scientific Management approach was a focus on tasks, the Behavioral Management approach was a focus on people. Historically, Fredrick Taylor didn’t disregard the importance of workers. In fact, the study of behavioral science and organizational behavior resulted from a criticism of the human relations approach as ‘simplistic’ and ‘manipulative’ in addressing the relationship between worker attitudes and productivity. Therefore, each management approach has its weakness.

Yet, Scientific Management has a lot of drawbacks if you want to build personal relationships with people. One of the sticky points about Scientific Management is its impersonal approach to managing people. People are a resource, but not machines. There are several other issues associated with this classical approach of managing workers, which include: (a) heavy reliance on experience and unproved assumptions, (c) failure to consider informal operations, and (d) operations assumed under static conditions. 

There are no magical bullets when you are dealing with employees as human beings. The Scientific Management approach was built on the shoulders of the Industrial Revolution. Behavioral Management followed suit later. Both approaches have their shortcomings. I suggest taking the best from both worlds. Some aspects of Scientific Management can be used to further develop and standardize an organization’s operations. Employees then understand what’s expected of them. 

With the Behavioral Management approach, sales managers can push performance by understanding what motivates each employee intimately. Quality expert George Peeler argues that the task of personalizing and communicating product value through interactive discussion is the task of the sales organization. Therefore, the best scenario would be to use all of the best management practices, including Scientific Management and Behavioral Management, for enhanced relationship customer relationships.

  Organizations may look to a Theory Y environment for creating the right manager’s mentality that builds trust in people to do the right things. When managers demonstrate they believe in their people and set clear expectations, most individuals will work harder. Management expert Stephen Covey explains that having trust fosters confidence. Salespeople are then motivated to go the extra mile for the organization (i.e. work longer hours, work harder, etc.). Therefore, Scientific Management has its own share of problems when discussing relationship selling.

Please discuss application of this topic in your organization and industry.


© 2014 by Daryl D. Green


5 thoughts on “Scientific Management in Organizations

  1. It is my opinion that in a professional work environment any restrictions on friendship forming will always have a negative impact. Stifling human nature with policies and regulations that affect who can and cannot be “friends” would result in a significant decline in morale. So long as a friendship is not distracting to other workers then I say leave it alone.

    Unethical business practices that can come about as a result of friendships in the workplace will never go away, but with carefully constructed policies, managers can limit their likelihood (Berman, 2002).

    Workplace Relations: Evan M. Berman
    Public Administration Review , Vol. 62, No. 2 (2002)

    • Caleb, Excellent!

      Do you believe that businesses should censor personal relationships in the office (other than direct supervisor-employee relationships)?

      Professor Green

      • Professor Green,
        As I said in my comment to Caleb, I do not believe in censoring personal relationships in the office. Studies have shown in research how in doing so it would be counter-productive. However, monitoring these relationships and employee behavior in the work place is key for managers. I am referring to the practice known as “management by observation” or “manage by walking around”. In order to truly know what is going on in the office it is crucial for managers to observe their employees, and in doing so productivity will increase. Research done by Ludwick states that it is the responsibility of the manager to monitor and manage work relationships to ensure work is being done. “In order to maintain relationships, frequent communication regarding the organizational value should take place.” From personal experience, I know that I work much harder if I know that my boss will be around in the office.

        Ludwick, P. (2006). Manage the relationships; the team will manage the work. Journal Of Housing & Community Development, 63(3), 38-41.

    • Caleb,
      I completely agree. To place any restrictions on personal relationships in the work place environment would be going against human nature. These individuals are around each other forty hours a week or more, and bond almost as close as family. To say that personal relationships will not form, would be delusional. Friendships will occur in the workplace, and positive things will come out of them such as guidance, direction, advice, training, and other experiences. A study was done by Mao and Hsieh that proved the advantages of personal relationships at work. They found that these friendships provide personal emotional satisfaction, while also detracting from the extreme competition at work. The study even goes as far to say how relationships can also increase productivity as a short release. Ultimately, the advantages will outweigh the negative effects from work bonding.
      Mao, H., & Hsieh, A. (2012). Organizational level and friendship expectation at work. Asian business & management, 11(4), 485-506. doi:10.1057/abm.2012.14

  2. Throughout my reading of the blog, I started to relate my experiences in the work place to these two different types of management. One thing I am sure of is that I’m thankful that I have had little to none with experiencing a scientific approach to management. Each work environment that I have been in, the managers seem to place a vital importance on the cares and concerns of their employees. Thus, I can side more with the behavioral management techniques. According to Petit, there are other various approaches to the behavioral theory for management. He divides managers into technical, institutional, and organizational. Technical managers work to produce output for the company, institutional work on adjusting accordingly to the environment, while organizational mediate between both. This behavioral approach seems to match my current work involvement: through the adaptation to technology changing so rapidly, as well as AT&T managers working to promote capital income for the future.

    Petit, T. A. (1967). A Behavioral theory of management. Academy Of Management Journal, 10(4), 341-350. doi:10.2307/255267

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