Advantages and Disadvantages of Scientific Management

Originally, the principle of Scientific Management was applied in the engineering industries. But now its scope is enlarged to cover all other aspects of the industrial management. It is due to the various advantages that may accrue to various parties due to the adoption of scientific methods.

Scientific Management - Advantages and Disadvantages
Image: Scientific Management – Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of Scientific management

The following are the principal advantages of scientific management.

1. It provides trained minds for achieving higher degree of excellence in all branches of shop management.

2. It completely revolutionizes and improves layout, routing, scheduling, purchasing, stores keeping and accounting.

3. It aims to standardize the materials, tools, equipment and methods of work.

4. It offers facilities for specialization and division of labour.

5. It replaces the old system of management rule of thumb method and introduces new and scientific methods.

6. Careful time and motion studies eradicate delays, avoid bodily strains of the workers, eliminate wastage and thereby contribute to the efficiency of the workers and ensures waste less utilization of the resources.

7. It seeks to introduce a mental revolution in the ideas of both the employer and employee and assures co-operation of the labour force.

8. It seeks a reduction in the cost of production through increased output. This would help the organization to complete on a better footing and thereby enlarge the market.

9. The workers are in a position to get higher wages. This removes most of the causes for industrial disputes and unrest. Further, enhanced earnings also lead to higher standard of living of the workers Thus, scientific management does justice to various sections of the society such as producers, workers and the consumers.

Disadvantages of Scientific Management

In spite of the illuminating advantages referred above, the concept of Scientific Management has become a subject of burning criticism. Not only the workers, but also the employees and even industrial psychologists are questioning the validity of Scientific Management. We shall now briefly examine the criticisms leveled by these three parties under distinct headings:

Disadvantages of Scientific management from Employers point of view

Most of the employers are highly reluctant to adopt the principles of Scientific Management. They object the introduction of the principles of Scientific Management on the following grounds.

1. High Costs

It is a costly affair. A thorough overhauling of the existing plant and organizational structure is highly expensive. Time and motion studies as well as other improvements involve a heavy initial outlay of capital.

2. Unsuitable for Small Firms

Since the introduction of Scientific Management involves huge expenditure, small firms cannot afford to adopt it.

3. Response from the workers

The system can be successfully implemented only with the heart felt co-operation of the workers. If they fail to respond favorably, the system shall fail to bring the desired results.

Disadvantages of Scientific Management from Employees point of view

The principal objections raised by the organized trade unions and the labour class are as follows:

1. Loss of Individual’s Initiative

The leading objection to Scientific Management that comes from workers is that it leads to excessive job standardization. Under Scientific Management, methods of work are all standardized and instructions are given to the workers by the foreman. The workers are supposed to perform the work in the same style and carry out the instructions given by the foreman. This tends to destroy the individual worker’s initiative, renders their skill useless, makes their work monotonous and converts them into automatic machines.

2. Speeding up of Workers

Scientific Management aims to speed up the workers, not consideration of their health and well being. Mere speeding up of the workers without corresponding structural changes in the organization and working conditions shall not lead to higher output but create only harmful mental conditions in the workers.

3. Autocratic Control of Functional Bosses

Another severe objection raised against the Scientific Management is that it is undemocratic in nature as it gives absolute control to the functional bosses and lessens the interest and responsibility of the workers. The workers ought to obey the orders and the instructions given by the superior or the foreman.

4. Creation of Unemployment

The critics of scientific management also argue that scientific management creates unemployment and hits the workers hard as a consequence of the adoption of labour saving devices both in the machinery and in the arrangement of work.

5. Unfairness

Another objection is that it tends to be unfair to the workers. A lion’s share of the additional profit arising out of increased efficiency does not go to the workers but goes to the coffers of the employer. It is also stated that the introduction of Scientific Management, has the effect of lowering the wages of the workers. But it is not true because Taylor himself has proved with statistical data that workmen in the scientifically managed companies received wages 35% higher than those doing the same job in other companies.

6. Monotony

Separation of planing function from that of doing, and excessive specialization, reduces the work to a mere routine. It would create monotony. Monotony refers to a mental state of slackness, inefficiency and a loss of interest in the job.

7. Opposed by Trade Unions

Under Scientific Management, the dominant issues of wages and working conditions are scientifically determined. This aspect embraces the workers and tries to introduce ideal conditions of work. Such a thing will naturally upset the very basis of the trade union movement.

8. Absence of Non-financial Incentives

Absence of non-financial incentives is another drawback of the Scientific Management. Non financial incentives can do many things more than what financial incentives can do.

Disadvantages of Scientific Management from Industrial Psychologists point of view

The objections raised by the industrial psychologists are mainly based on the human element involved in the management. They view that Taylor’s principles are too impersonal and undermine the importance of the human factor. The following are the main objections raised by them.

1. Workers are human beings and cannot be standardized in the same way as machines and materials. Any attempt to standardize their activities will not result in a success.

2. The Scientific Management places emphasis on discovering the one best way of doing a work without considering the individual difference of the workers. Each human being has his own genius, abilities, style and mode. Hence, the best can be obtained only by giving scope to shape their carrier according to their carrier abilities and aptitudes.

3. Payment of wages on piece rate basis will make the workers disappointed, particularly the beginners and untrained workers.