Similar to any theory or a concept, the scientific management had its supporters and detractors. “To its supporters, it brought professionalism based on knowledge and scientific principles. It galvanized American industry and made possible the huge gains in productivity and prosperity of the early 20th century. To its detractors, scientific management or Taylorism represents everything that is bad about the capitalist system.” (Witzel, 2005, P.89).
While conducting the literature review on this topic, I was fascinated to know that the scientific management had its supporters beyond the United States, and the disciples of Taylor were already defending this theory in my many European countries, such as Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.
Moreover, and similar to Taylor’s work on the principles of the scientific management, Henry Fayol on the other hand, was the author of the classical paper the general principles of management. In his classical paper, Fayol identified the following 14 general principles of management: (Shafritz, Ott & Jang, 2011, P. 52)
- Division of work
- Authority and responsibility
- Unity of command
- Unity of command
- Subordination of individual interest to the general interest
- Remuneration of Personnel
- Scalar chain (line of authority)
- Stability of tenure of personnel
- Esprit de corps.
Furthermore, in his article, ‘Where scientific management went awry’, the author, Morgen Witzel argues that Taylorism laid the foundations for science‐based management in the United States and in Europe. However, the embracing of this theory was not all rosy. In France, Taylor’s convinced disciples Henri‐Louis Le Chatelier and Charles de la Poix Freminville had many theoretical clashes with the supporters of Henry Fayol France’s famous influential mining engineer and a pioneer in the experimental sciences for management advancements.
The author argued that “Fayolism was thus temperamentally opposed to the ‘one best way’ approach, and conflict with Taylorism was inevitable. Taylorists attacked Fayolism for being too vague and insufficiently scientific; Fayolists in turn attacked Taylorism as a foreign import, alien to French culture and tradition” (Witzel, 2005, P.90).
In addition, the rivalry between the two school‐of‐thoughts (Taylorism and Fayolists) continued and intensified between 1919 and 1925. “Finally, in 1925, Fayol admitted defeat, announcing publicly that there was no conflict between his ideas and those of Taylor. The two organizations agreed to merge, with Freminville (Taylor’s disciple) as president. Fayol died soon after, and Taylorism became the new orthodoxy in France” (Witzel, 2005, P.90).
Unlike in France, in the Soviet Union, Taylorism was favored, and the scientific management received a very clear enthusiastic reception. At Lenin’s order, Taylor’s work was translated into Russian and then was published in the Pravada, which is a leading newspaper in the Soviet Union. Moreover, the scientific management was taught at the prestigious educational institutions, where many of the new generation of managers and engineers were trained. Finally, the scientific management and major role in inspiring a new movement in the Soviet industry called Stakhanovism.
In addition, Taylor’s school of thought was not restricted to the united state and Europe; it actually crossed to the other side of the world across the Pacific Ocean to reach the Japanese industry and manufacturing, and helped to shape the Japanese‐style‐management.
Even though the literature does not show sufficient work regarding the influence of Taylor’s scientific management approach on Japan’s industry and its management culture, there recently many academic research papers and doctoral dissertations that are discussing the influence of Taylorism on the Japanese and their management style. In his dissertation in 1995, William Tsutsui argued that:
Taylorism progressed further, remained relevant longer, and penetrated deeper in Japan than previous appraisals have acknowledged. Tracing Taylorite thought from its introduction in 1911, through the efficiency movement of the 1920, Depression‐era, industrial rationalization, wartime mobilization, the postwar drive for productivity, and the quality control initiatives of high‐growth Japan, this study suggests that scientific management was progressively embraced as the logical and natural model for industry. (Tsutsui, 1995, P.iii)
Apparently, the scientific management had its supporters and oppositions, but the debate but continues to go on, and unless it withstands the time and the science that we say Taylor’s theory is still valid. Moreover, the scientific management gave the way to theories such as the “empowerment”, which is a belief that employees normally would seek fulfillment rather than money. Finally, the legacy of the scientific management remains in the end productivity per person, which must be measured in order to be improved. (Shafritz, Ott & Jang, 2011)