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scientific management and our culture

Scientific management is an interesting principle concerned with business. It is defined as a practice in which scientific methods are used in place of common rule of thumb methods in the workplace. Its concern is to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, in hand with the maximum prosperity for each employer. A novel titled The principles of Scientific Management, by Frederick Winslow Taylor gives a detailed account of how this method was used in the past, its usefulness and the effect it has had on our society as a whole. Scientific management always has been a debatable topic and continues to be even today. Different ways of business management practices are effective, but in this novel Taylor attempts to persuade the reader that his method of science in the workplace is ideally the most effective. As the novel unfolds, many generalizations about business and aspects of American life are apparent. Accordingly, different cultural values are addressed in the descriptions of how this method is practiced.

To begin, we must take a look at how business practices were operated in the past. In most cases, the employer didn’t work closely with the employee and the employee was in a sense on his own. He or she was free to discover the most effective ways of working, while getting paid minimum wages. The workers were paid a certain amount an hour, and weren’t necessarily given a specific quota to meet at a certain time. This way of work was ineffective in many ways. The employees often viewed their bosses as enemies, and antagonists. Their relationships were impersonal and negative. Soldiering, which is the intentional slowing of work by the employees to do less work and get paid more. Because of this, no workers were achieving their highest efficiency and largest daily output. Strikes and protests were also common, and something needed to be done. Taylor developed a method of work that can be described in a few steps. First, a science was to be developed for each element of a man’s work. Second, the management would scientifically select and train the workmen. Then the management cooperates with the workers so that all work is done in accordance to science that was developed. Finally, the division of work between the managers and employee was nearly equal.

These few steps giving the management more responsibility was much more effective because it allowed the workers to achieve maximum prosperity. They were given an amount of work they had to complete, and would get higher wages for it. It inevitably solved all of the previous problems in the workplace for those who used it. So the question is still unanswered, “What cultural values and aspects of American life are addressed in this situation?” If proper research is done it will be apparent that these types of practices still continue today. It is estimated that at least 50,000 workmen in the U.S. are employed under this type of task management. The output per machine and per person has easily been doubled and there have been no protests or strikes.

However, there is a problem to be addressed. Under this type of management, ethics and cultural values are in question. The workers in almost every situation are monitored in every aspect in order to determine their highest work abilities, and largest daily output without tiring. Workers are laboring all day with scheduled breaks in accordance with their own biological clock. Immediately following this is more work until completion. This can be a problem, considering there is such intense control over each worker. Also once workers receive their higher pay, they are normally staying at that rate as long as their working. Raises and promotions seem to be out of the question. One must ask if it can be a fulfilling lifestyle to work under these conditions. Task management requires long days of work with minimal breaks and no raises. Although you’re getting paid higher than normal, you are more than likely not getting paid to the equivalent of your work. Management requires such skill, as well as the laboring making it difficult to change positions in any case. Scientific management also ignores many other factors people will face.

What cultural values exist in the workplace presently? What practices contain or are guided by cultural values. Surely we have all seen companies hire people with disabilities in ensure equal rights for employees. We see programs to help past criminals find work, and nearly anyone else in search of work. Most managements value their employees and potential employees. Businesses are required to treat everyone fairly, but what exactly defines “fair?” No exact definition can be chosen to illustrate what is fair in every situation. Although regulations have been made to ensure that cultural values are provided for, not every aspect can be addressed. In this situation, it seems impossible for each conviction that is important to the worker to be met. For every positive there seems to be a negative in this scientific management. Job satisfaction affects attitudes and behavior in the workplace, which makes apparent the possible threat of greater needs of workers aren’t met.

As in any case, no remedy exists for all troubles because certain problems still arise every day in American culture. People continue to be born lazy and inefficient, greedy and brutal. Violence and crime is still a big problem especially in industrially thriving areas. Poverty, misery and unhappiness continue to be a part of our culture. As said by Frederick Winslow Taylor, “Prosperity depends upon so many factors beyond control of any one set of men, state, or country.” As for scientific management, it is opposable in determining whether or not the values in our culture are sufficiently met. This type of management, although it seems more effective in the production area may not be the best thing for American management.

This topic of scientific management interests me because I don’t think workers often think about what type of management they work under. I also think it would be advantageous for workers to investigate which type of management they would best perform under. In working, weighing the costs and benefits is important as well as addressing one’s own cultural values. It is only then; that one can truly be pleased, while achieving their own maximum prosperity. By studying different types of work, we can see other sectors in which cultural values play a role. Inevitably in the management positions, they play a large, as well as the workers. Cultural values even play roles as far as the consumer is concerned. Many consumers are concerned with how the products were fabricated and under what circumstances. It works in a chain, where everyone is affected by American values. As a whole, these values will play at least a slight role in every American’s life.

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