Taylorism and Fordism are some of the most influential classical foundations of work organization. They not only exemplify the earliest building blocks of the modern management frameworks, but they also present theories and issues that recur in contemporary work organization literature. F.W Taylor first developed the assemblage of information about the organization of work following scientific and mechanical techniques.
His scientific management approach, also known as Taylorism, was built on the division of work that involved the classification of tasks into basic and habitual movements. The theory draws a clear distinction between the planning and execution roles. Taylor believed that the right job could only be effectively performed through one way that could only be scientifically developed and organized by managers and instructed to the other employees. To maximize efficiency, Taylor examined how his workers executed their tasks, classified the jobs into steps, and used a stopwatch to monitor the workers’ performance. He rewarded high output with high piece rates and set lower rates for poor results.
Taylorism promised high levels of success for owners and a moderate improvement in the workers’ wages and working conditions. It brought a distinction between manual and mental labor and simplified the skilled tasks into smaller units that could be executed at different levels of skill. The management system facilitated better utilization of labor as every level of work would be matched with the right level of skill and compensated appropriately.
Holding a management position, Taylor observed inefficient work ethics among his subordinates and concluded that manual laborers were only driven by the desire to earn a living. He did not think that they had any mental capacity to devise sustainable methods of performing their tasks. His theory, therefore, places the responsibility of scientifically analyzing the tasks that need to be performed in an organization on the management. Taylorism was developed on the principles of task fragmentation, the distinction between task planning and execution, distinguishing direct and indirect labor, and limitation of skill requirements.
As Taylorism continued to grow in popularity among factory owners, Henry Ford implemented its concepts in his car company, introducing highly technologically advanced machines, therefore, combining scientific management with innovation. The result was a new work organization framework called Fordism that had a more significant impact on work relations than its predecessors. It generated a more effective control over task performance leading to increased productivity. Fordism was based on the notion that people should be accorded all the time they need but should not have unnecessary time. Like Taylorism, it emphasized the division of work, developing specialization, and utilizing costly and specialized machines for every task. Work organization, according to Ford, was meant to minimize the losses caused by mediocrity rather than inhibiting ability development. However, his model ended up preventing ability development through the use of different management and control procedures.
The concepts of Taylorism and Fordism are connected in that they both act as modes of labor regulation. They distinguish the concepts of ownership and control in large organizations with differentiated multinational decentralized structures with centralized management. Additionally, they are both social and economic regulation frameworks that support monopoly pricing, collective bargain, and union recognition. Taylorism and Fordism draw a connection between the increase in productivity and price inflations. Despite having various limitations, they became the most dominating work management frameworks in the vehicle and other technical manufacturing industries across Britain and the US.
The principles of Taylorism and Fordism continue to influence work and production management in the contemporary business environment to a great extent. They have paved the way for the distinction that exists between manual and intellectual work, where mental laborers generate ideas and tasks for the manual labors to execute them. In most industries, the management makes all the significant decisions and develop strategies and supervise their subordinates as they perform all the tasks required in the implementation process. The interaction between the two theories is evident in the division of labor in the modern-day economy. For instance, Taylorism is manifested in the growing popularity of production and operation management studies.
On the other hand, the modern-day mass production concept arises from Ford’s emphasis on product improvement and the reorganization of the manufacturing plant. Both models embody the progressive development of the production line, the maximization of productivity, and justification of human performance. The gradual and noticeable increase in both mental and manual labor wages can also be attributed to Taylorism and Fordism. Therefore, the complementary relationship between the concepts of the two models became the foundation for the development of the classical framework of production management and work organization. Fordism was based on the notion that people should be accorded all the time they need but should not have unnecessary time. Like Taylorism, it emphasized the division of work, developing specialization, and utilizing costly and specialized machines for every task. Work organization, according to Ford, was meant to minimize the losses caused by mediocrity rather than inhibiting ability development.
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