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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2002
Frederick Winslow Taylor comes straight to the point when he explains the reason for writing the book: First, "to point out the great loss which the whole country is suffering through inefficiency in almost all of our daily acts". Second, "to try to convince the reader that the remedy for this inefficiency lies in systematic management, rather than in searching for some unusual or extraordinary man". Third, "to prove that the best management is a true science, resting upon clearly defined laws, rules, and principles, as a foundation".
However, this starting point does not set the tone for the rest of the book. Taylor and his Taylorism/task management is more human than most people will tell you. This can be seen from the first page of the first chapter, where Taylor explains the principal of object of management, which "should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee".
Initially, Taylor starts with a short introduction and reasons of "soldiering" which he refers to as "deliberately working slowly as as to avoid doing a full day's work". Taylor then turns to his now-famous Scientific Management. The four elements which constitute the essence of scientific management are: First, the development of standardization of methods. Second, the careful selection and training of personnel. Third, extensive supervision by management and payment of bonuses. Fourth, an equal division of the work and responsibility between the workman and the management. Taylor uses some somewhat old-fashioned examples to explain task-management, such as pig-iron handling, bricklaying, and inspection of bicycle balls.
Just like other readers I expected something different from this book, since much of what is said about this book on MBA and management-courses is not true. I did enjoy reading this book, even though it is now somewhat out of date (originally published 1911), but it is amazing how much scientific management is still around us and the influence it still has on modern management (business process reengineering). It is written in simple English and is very thin for a management book with just 140 pages.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Let me caution you before commenting on this book. Most people who refer to Taylor and Scientific Management have not read Taylor, but about Taylor in secondary sources. So, forget what you have heard about Taylor. Keep an open mind.
Prior to Taylor, management tried to create output by providing incentives to workers. But pressure from peers kept workers from doing more work. Everyone agreed that this would lead to fewer jobs.
The virtuous cycle of higher performance, lower prices, more sales, and higher pay for workers and shareholders was not yet uncovered.
Taylor sees the results of the higher productivity mostly being of help to consumers, with the remainder of the benefit split between shareholders and workers. In that he was prescient. Advanced thinkers today are rediscovering this old truth, first elaborated by Taylor.
What I found to be delightful in the book was the emphasis on trying to approach the ideal practice, rather than being satisfied with the best of today.
Here are the key principles for your reference:
(1) develop a science for each element of a task to determine the most productive way to do that task (quality and quantity considered in terms of total costs)
(2) scientifically select and train those who can do the task the most effectively in what needs to be done, and provide all of the help they need
(3) create an environment where the person doing the task can be productive (this often involves systems limitations, like input from others)
(4) management has a role in designing the work, selecting workers who are ideal for the work, and helping the work be learned properly. There is an equal division between the worker and management in creating the right result.
In reading this list, I am reminded of Bill Jensen's new book, Simplicity, in which he calls for something rather similar to the broad concepts of Scientific Management. So although many people consider almost all existing management Taylorian, a closer examination would say that management is not doing its job.
The basic problem with Scientific Management was not that it was flawed, but that it took slow long to do that it was impractical to try too many experiments. The time and measurement experiments took forever. The calculations of multivariate problems were hard to solve in precomputer days. The change process was slow (usually 3-5 years).
The experiments that we all know about and applaud now (team-based learning and self-directed work teams, TQM, reengineering, and so forth) could have been addressed by the Scientific Management method as soon as the limitations described above could be lifted.
As a result, I think it is incorrect to be pro TQM or reengineering and anti Scientific Management. I believe that the basic principles are more compatible than not.
At some point, all of this becomes merely philosophical. I think you will find the case studies in the book revealing about what the potential for improvement can be in tasks that people have been doing for centuries (like laying bricks).
I was impressed that Taylor was so good at locating stalls of disbelief, misconception, communication, and bureaucracy. He had a keen sense of where mental models were wrong, and how to bust those stalls. In fact, he may have been the 19th century's first business stallbuster.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding more about how measurements can be useful to identifying ways to improve performance for all of society.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2004
Scientific management, as defined by Frederic W. Taylor (1856-1917), initiated from the premise of the inability of "ordinary" management to grasp the productive capacity of workers.
Management proved inadequate to utilise human resources effectively in order to better production, and thereupon was solely reliant on the initiative and expertise of the workforce to do so.

Taylor's insight was a redefinition of the role of management in the production process. Applying scientific methodology to work management would result, according to him, into improved worker performance and the adaptation of labour to the needs of capitalism (all in favour of management).
In practice, Taylor's extensive experimentation resolved in the articulation of "scientific management", a form of labour organisation that involved the standardisation of labour techniques.
Taylor's ingenuity laid in the design of a universal managerial blueprint of work, which could be employed to address efficiency problems at different levels of complexity.
Production did no longer "wish" of workers to consume themselves mentally, but strictly physically. Man was now unconsciously caught up in a repetitive, mechanical production process founded on the premises of what once was his own mastery.
In time, Taylor's theories caught on with the industrial world and further ground for experimentation was provided. Taylor proceeded strong to formulate the principles of labour management that later on culminated in the publication of the Principles of Scientific Management (1911).
* More produced, at a lower cost. This actually implies "commodification" of labour under the piece-rate system. As man is enabled to produce more, he is expected to produce more than previously and hence his gain per unit produced diminishes.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2011
Frederick Winslow Taylor's masterpiece if a prime example of what John Ralston-Saul calls 'the dictatorship of reason', by which he means that to the bureaucratic or industrialised mind, the human race are simply material inputs to a production or administrative process. Taylor argued that there is objectively ONE right way to perform any task and that finding this 'right' way is the job of managers and that all poor stupid workers need to do thereafter is to obey orders.

Taylor's work is extremely important in the history of human thought and the history of industrialised western society but that does not necessarily make its' assertions any less odious despite the passage of a century. Taylor provided the justification for Henry Ford to expect a man to be content for 25 years to fasten the left-side rear wheel nuts as each car came past him. In many of its' arguments it prefigures the change from Personnel to 'Human Resources' departments and advances the sort of instrumentalist view of humanity which critics as diverse as G.K.Chesterton, Matthew Arnold, Hannah Arendt, Simon Wiesenbaum, Alan Turing, Jane Jacobs and Howard Gardner have warned against.

The work is well written and coherently argued, but it is of a piece with the likes of Francis Galton in asserting that only a certain kind of people (co-incidentally identical to the author in terms of race, class, gender religion etc), are 'fit' to be managers. Chesterton refuted such rubbish eloquently when he said he'd find such talk more believable and less racist if a speaker were to describe himself as being one of those only fit for the demeaned existence he wishes others to endure.

Taylor's work is important to read, but equally important to reject as a model for society because, to paraphrase the words of Paolo Freire, it contributes to the reduction of man to an object. If Newton saw farther than others by standing on the shoulders of giants then Frederick Winslow Taylor stood on a slag heap and saw no further than his own prejudices.
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on 19 January 2013
This book was bought as additional reading for Ergonomic studies.

Simply so much is written quoted and discussed about Taylor that his message is lost amongst the volume of associated comment. This book is worth buying just to read his original principles in his prose. The message is his, but after reading you can better decide on your own interpretation of his work and marry it to the considerable comment already available.
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on 30 September 2010
It is a great book. It is much better than reading information about his theories from journals. A lot of the journals written on him are biased, a lot of them mainly just don't take into account the time that the book was written.

It is definitely a must have book for academics, although some of his ideas are a little bit dated.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 28 January 2003
Yes, an 'exemplory' text. This book is the underlying credo of the Thatcher, Major and Blair governments approach to organising and running the public sector. If you want to know why we measure absolutely everything, downgrade practitioner professionalism and distrust any corporate employees in the public sector - well, its all here under the grand banner of Taylorism.
Read it and understand why teachers, nurses, lecturers, firemen, ... feel devalued. Its Taylor wot dun it!
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on 21 April 2010
I needed this book for a uni course. It is heavy reading but useful for my course. I often purchase books off amazon & I have never had a problem. Thanx Amazon
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on 8 May 2014
Although this book is a bit hsrd to read, it is well worth as an introduction Time and otion Study or what becamr known as Work Study.
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on 3 September 2014
Very good text
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