Fordism and Scientific Managem

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Fordism and Scientific Managem


Fordism and Scientific Management are terms used to describe management that had application to practical situations with extremely dramatic effects.  Fordism takes its name from the mass production units of Henry Ford, and is identified by an involved technical division of labour within companies and their production units.  Other characteristics of Fordism include strong hierarchical control, with workers in a production line often restricted to the one single task, usually specialised and unskilled. Scientific management, on the other hand,  originated through Fredrick Winslow Taylor in 1911, and in very basic terms described the one best way work could be done and that the best way to improve output was to improve the techniques or methods used by the workers. (Robbins p.38)
Many comparisons can be made between the two theories, such as the mechanisation, fragmentation and specialisation of work and that a lack of intellectual or skilled content will speed up the work at hand. Fordism's mechanisation of mass production further emphasised many of Taylors popular beliefs about management being divorced from human affairs and emotions, using humans as instruments or machines to be manipulated by their leaders (Hersey p.84).  Fordism fused and emphasised the scientific methods to get things done by Fords successful mass-production processes. Contrasts also exist between the two theories. Fordism dehumanisied the worker whereas scientific management convinced the workers that their goals could be readily achieved along with their employers goals, therefore they should all work together in this direction.   Fordism suited industrial companies participating in mass production, whereas Scientific Management could be used in many types of organisation. Large companies such as Ford Motors, The Reichskuratorium fur Wirtschaftkichkeit (RKW) in Germany examples these theories in practice. These theories of the past are lessons for the way modern organisations are run today. Managers now realise that they should treat their workers more democratically and since the mid-70s, sweeping changes in markets and technology have encouraged managers and manufacturers to use greater product diversity and more flexible methods of production. Movements towards a more flexible organisation have become apparent.  Examples of orgainisations such as Nissan, NASA and Toyota serve as modern day examples of post-Fordism and depict movement towards a modified Scientific Management.

Comparisons that can be made include Fordism's mechanisation of mass production and Taylors attempts at using employees as machines. Taylor designed this using his principles of management that included developing a science for each element of work and finding the quickest way the job could be done. Henry Fords ideal types of Fordist production system included using fixed and dedicated machines in individuals work, rather than turning the employee into a machine. (Hollinshead 1995)

With Taylor attempting to prove to the world that there was a science to management and that the quickest way was the best way, he attacked the incompetence of managers for their inefficiencies in running the railroads and factories. Using time and motion studies, Taylor achieved productivity increases of up to 200 per cent. (Dunphy, 1998, p.4). His thoughts were echoed by others: during a 1910 Interstate Commerce Commission hearing, Louis D. Brandeis argued that US railroads could save a million dollars a day if they introduced scientific management into their operations (Oakes, 1996). Taylor showed the world that the methodical and scientific study of work could lead to improved efficiency. He believed that by defining clear guidelines for workers many improvements could be made to the production of goods. Fordism like Scientific Management in the newly mechanised industries of the early 20th century emphasised that efficiency came from precision in job design, clear division of responsibilities and tight policing of implementation (Taylor, 1911). Taylorism and Fordism were consistent with notions of the organisation as  a military machine first developed by Frederick the Great of Prussia, and later refined by Henri Fayol. (Taplin, 1995, p.430)

Scientific Management encouraged firms to improve efficiency by analysing individual processes of industrial production and then recreating them to produce maximum output from any given size labor force. (Hudson, 1997) Ford's production-line innovations compounded scientific managements efficiencies into the economy. Taylor believed it would be best to scientifically select, train, teach and develop