Frederick Taylor first published his revolutionary works in 1911, right at the height of the American industrial revolution. The incentive for the development of his theories was the observation that workers would intentionally waste time, which significantly decreased the efficiency and productivity of the work environment. Taylor used scientifically based studies on many work tasks to determine the most efficient way of performing them.
Taylor’s theories were based on four principles. The first was that rule of thumb methods need to be replaced by scientific study of the work task. The second was that workers needed to be carefully selected and trained on the specifics of the job. The third was that management should cooperate with workers to make certain that scientific work practices were being followed. The fourth is that work should be divided equally between workers and managers (Taylor, 1919).
Public organizations can benefit from applying the principles of Taylor, as they are under pressure to service a growing population of client with fewer resources. Shrinking public organizational budgets means that organizations must be able to make better use of the resources that they have at their disposal. Making better use of their resources applies to human capital, not only material resources. Taylorism can be applied to public organizations to help them better serve the public interests.
Taylor’s principles were criticized for placing pressure on workers and he emphasized pay as a reward (Rainey, 2014). Now, it is known that pay is not the sole motivator for workers. It is recognized that workers need some level of job satisfaction and life balance to perform their best. The principles of Taylorism can still be applied, only with the knowledge about human capital instilled into the mix. Taylorism still applies, but in a form that meets the needs of the modern workforce in public organizations.
- Rainey, Hal G. (2014). Understanding and Managing Public Organizations. 5ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
- Taylor, F. (1919). The Principles of Scientific Management. New York, New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers. Retrieved from http://strategy.sjsu.edu/www.stable/pdf/Taylor,%20F.%20W.%20(1911).%20New%20York,%20Harper%20&%20Brothers.pdf