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Taylor and Taylorism

This article presents the idea of rationalisation by Frederick W Taylor. You are also asked to reflect upon his theories and share your thoughts.
© Luleå University of Technology

Who was Frederick W Taylor?

Frederick W Taylor was instrumental in the rationalisation of production systems. His most impactful work was Scientific Management, released in 1911.

His work can be summarised in two main principles:

  • The idea that there is always a best way to perform a task (one way to do this is to standardise the work process and divide the labour in the most beneficial and efficient manner)
  • The right person in the right place

While helped make production more productive, his view on people leaned toward the mechanical side (which we will discuss more later).

Taylor’s goal

Taylor argued that through rationalisation it was possible to reduce the costs of labour and produce more for the same cost, enabling increased salaries for workers on the basis of piecework. He claimed that the main goal of his work was to increase the well-being of people.

Piece work refers to a system where each worker is paid depending on how much they have produced and not based on time spent working


The type of management advocated by Taylor became known as Taylorism. Some of the main ideas of Taylorism were:

  • Rules of thumb should be replaced by methods based on scientific studies.
  • Instead of doing things based on practical experience, it should be based on verified theory.
  • The selection, training and development of workers should be based on science.
  • The idea was to match the best people with each type of work assignment.
  • Workers should be supplied with detailed instructions and guidance.
  • The idea was to give workers everything they needed to be able to carry out their work.
  • Division should be divided equally between workers and leadership The workers should only carry out their work assignments while the leadership should select the right people, develop new methods and so on.
In your opinion, what are the pros and cons to Taylorism? Do you think that workplaces today are affected by the same or similar ideas like those of Taylor?

Please write your answer in the comment section and discuss with other learners.

© Luleå University of Technology
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