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Taylorism Essay

1831 words - 8 pages

Topic 1: Scientific Management

How was Taylorism received outside the USA? Contrast the reception of Taylorism in two different countries, one western, one Asian, in your answer.


Before looking in to whether scientific management has always been successful outside of USA, there is a need to look at scientific management when Frederick W. Taylor first introduced it in the late 1890s and early 1900s. Started experimenting at Midvale Steel Company where he tried to improve the efficiency of the workers for increased productivity, he has then already faced the problems and critics of his scientific management that it is still facing today. This includes the time study of ...view middle of the document...

In contrast, the spread of Taylorism to the “modern sector” in many developing countries and its development in many centrally planned economies as well did not lead to a comparable development of productivity levels or of mass consumption in those countries.

The reception of Taylorism has never been fully positive till now, it is an age-old debate between supporters and critics who have their fair share of points in their arguments. This paper however is not to judge and evaluate Taylor and scientific management, but to discuss if it is successful in its application outside of USA. It is also important to note that scientific management as mentioned in this paper has already been evolved and refined in their uses not only in mechanical operations but other activities as well. This is due to the fact that Taylor’s scientific management has merely provided a stepping-stone for many others to replicate and improvise its methods during this scientific management era. Since then, many other theorists have come out their own systems and theories that largely define what is scientific management today.

Scientific Management in Russia

Russia (then USSR) was at its premature stages in their industrial revolution where the majority of the population was in agriculture; there was a need for a system to get the industry going. Lenin, who was aware of Taylor’s work, decided to bring scientific management into Russia’s industry. Components such as ‘functional foreman’ and an institute was formed to experiment with Taylorism were introduced (Wren 1980), but this did not really took off, there was only a few improvements due to the Communist party’s hostility towards capitalist ideas, socialist inefficiency and resistance to change (Locke 1982). Cultural differences affected the success of Taylor’s ideas in Russia, as described by Kerzhentsev (cited in Armstrong) Russians were critical of applying Western European and American methods and that all foreign specialists were seen as capitalists who would sabotage the socialists effort of Russia. This was evident as there were idle factories and incompetent workers who were unskilled and untrained, who were unable to operate the new technology that was brought in to improve the industry. Taylor’s idea was unable to succeed because of the ideological fact that the Russians were operating in an environment where there is a class divide between the working and owning class, whereas Taylor’s idea requires the labour and management to be working together towards a common goal. Therefore, Russia at that point of time was unable to adapt quickly to the different working culture that is required for Taylor’s idea to succeed.

While trying to emulate Taylor’s work in Russia did not come to a success, scientific management did however succeed in the end. This was credited to the efforts of Walter N. Polakov, who increased Russia’s machine tool output by a reported 400% (Wren 1980). He did so by introducing Gantt...

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