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Business LibreTexts

3.3: Ancient History: Management Through the 1990s

  • Page ID
    4771
  • Learning Objectives

    1. Early motivation for development of principles.
    2. What problems did these principles solve?
    3. What were the limitations of these early views?

    Early Management Principles

    Early management principles were born of necessity. The most influential of these early principles were set forth by Henri Fayol a French mining engineer. In 1888, Fayol became director of a mining company. The company was in difficulty, but Fayol was able to turn it around and make the company profitable again. When he retired, Fayol wrote down what he’d done to save the company. He helped develop an “administrative science” and developed principles that he thought all organizations should follow if they were to run properly.

    Fayol’s 14 Principles of Management

    1. Specialization/Division of Labor

      By specializing in a limited set of activities, workers become more efficient and increase their output.

    2. Authority/Responsibility

      Managers must have the authority to issue commands, but with that authority comes the responsibility to ensure that the work gets done.

    3. Discipline

      Workers must obey orders if the business is to run smoothly. But good discipline is the result of effective leadership: workers must understand the rules and management should use penalties judiciously if workers violate the rules.

    4. Unity of Command

      An employee should receive orders only from one boss to avoid conflicting instructions.

    5. Unity of Direction

      Each unit or group has only one boss and follows one plan so that work is coordinated.

    6. Subordination of Individual Interest

      The interests of one person should never take precedence over what is best for the company as a whole.

    7. Remuneration

      Workers must be fairly paid for their services.

    8. Centralization

      Centralization refers to decision making: specifically, whether decisions are centralized (made by management) or decentralized (made by employees). Fayol believed that whether a company should centralize or decentralize its decision making depended on the company’s situation and the quality of its workers.

    9. Line of Authority

      The line of authority moves from top management down to the lowest ranks. This hierarchy is necessary for unity of command, but communication can also occur laterally if the bosses are kept aware of it. The line should not be overextended or have too many levels.

    10. Order

      Orderliness refers both to the environment and materials as well as to the policies and rules. People and materials should be in the right place at the right time.

    11. Equity

      Fairness (equity), dignity, and respect should pervade the organization. Bosses must treat employees well, with a “combination of kindliness and justice.”

    12. Stability of Tenure

      Organizations do best when tenure is high (i.e., turnover is low). People need time to learn their jobs, and stability promotes loyalty. High employee turnover is inefficient.

    13. Initiative

      Allowing everyone in the organization the right to create plans and carry them out will make them more enthusiastic and will encourage them to work harder.

    14. Esprit de Corps

      Harmony and team spirit across the organization builds morale and unity.

    Time and Motion

    Figure 3.4

    3.3-1024x682.jpg

    Today, coal is mined and moved by heavy machinery like this coal lift. In Taylor’s time, it was moved by shovel to rail cars or trucks.

    PublicDomainPictures – CC0 public domain.

    Frederick Winslow Taylor, a contemporary of Fayol’s, formalized the principles of scientific management in his 1911 book, The Principles of Scientific Management. Taylor described how productivity could be greatly improved by applying the scientific method to management; for this reason, the scientific approach is sometimes referred to as Taylorism.

    Taylor is most famous for his “time studies,” in which he used a stopwatch to time how long it took a worker to perform a task, such as shoveling coal or moving heavy loads. Then he experimented with different ways to do the tasks to save time. Sometimes the improvement came from better tools. For example, Taylor devised the “science of shoveling,” in which he conducted time studies to determine how much weight a worker could lift with a shovel without tiring. He determined that 21 pounds was the optimal weight. But since the employer expected each worker to bring his own shovel, and there were different materials to be shoveled on the job, it was hard to ensure that 21-pound optimum. So, Taylor provided workers with the optimal shovel for each density of materials, like coal, dirt, snow, and so on. With these optimal shovels, workers became three or four times more productive, and they were rewarded with pay increases.

    Frank Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, his wife (who outlived Frank by 48 years!), were associates of Taylor and were likewise interested in standardization of work to improve productivity (Wikipedia, 2009). They went one better on Taylor’s time studies, devising “motion studies” by photographing the individual movements of each worker (they attached lights to workers’ hands and photographed their motions at slow speeds). The Gilbreths then carefully analyzed the motions and removed unnecessary ones. These motion studies were preceded by timing each task, so the studies were called “time and motion studies.”

    Applying time and motion studies to bricklaying, for example, the Gilbreths devised a way for workers to lay bricks that eliminated wasted motion and raised their productivity from 1,000 bricks per day to 2,700 bricks per day. Frank Gilbreth applied the same technique to personal tasks, like coming up with “the best way to get dressed in the morning.” He suggested the best way to button the waistcoat, for example, was from bottom up rather than top down. Why? Because then a man could straighten his tie in the same motion, rather than having to raise his hands back up from the bottom of the waistcoat.

    Limitations of the Early Views

    Fayol, Taylor, and the Gilbreths all addressed productivity improvement and how to run an organization smoothly. But those views presumed that managers were overseeing manual labor tasks. As work began to require less manual labor and more knowledge work, the principles they had developed became less effective. Worse, the principles of Taylorism tended to dehumanize workers. The writer Upton Sinclair who raised awareness of deplorable working conditions in the meatpacking industry in his 1906 book, The Jungle, was one of Taylor’s vocal critics. Sinclair pointed out the relatively small increase in pay (61%) that workers received compared with their increased productivity (362%). Frederick Taylor answered Sinclair’s criticism, saying that workers should not get the full benefit because it was management that devised and taught the workers to produce more. But Taylor’s own words compare workers to beasts of burden: The worker is “not an extraordinary man difficult to find; he is merely a man more or less the type of an ox, heavy both mentally and physically” (Sinclair, 1911; Taylor, 1911)

    When work was manual, it made sense for a manager to observe workers doing a task and to devise the most efficient motions and tools to do that task. As we moved from a manufacturing society to a service-based one, that kind of analysis had less relevance. Managers can’t see inside the head of a software engineer to devise the fastest way to write code. Effective software programming depends on knowledge work, not typing speed.

    Likewise, a services-based economy requires interactions between employees and customers. Employees have to be able to improvise, and they have to be motivated and happy if they are to serve the customer in a friendly way. Therefore, new management theories were developed to address the new world of management and overcome the shortcomings of the early views.

    Finally, early views of management were heavily oriented toward efficiency, at the expense of attention to the manager-as-leader. That is, a manager basically directs resources to complete predetermined goals or projects. For example, a manager may engage in hiring, training, and scheduling employees to accomplish work in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. A manager is considered a failure if he or she is not able to complete the project or goals with efficiency or when the cost becomes too high. However, a leader within a company develops individuals to complete predetermined goals and projects. A leader develops relationships with his or her employees by building communication, by evoking images of success, and by eliciting loyalty. Thus, later views of management evoke notions of leaders and leadership in discussing the challenges and opportunities for modern managers.