Warwick Business School
University of Warwick
IB1230 - Understanding Organisational Behaviour
Due: 14th January 2013
Word Count: 2084
Compare and contrast the contributions of Taylor and Ford to our understanding of organisational behaviour – 12 CATS
The contributions of Taylor and Ford have allowed us to better understand organizational behaviour at work by their pre-conceptions of how people think and respond to changes in variables at their work, and also the way they work. While theoretically the thinking of Ford and Taylor is sound, in application there are certain deficiencies of both sets of principles which arise from non-quantifiable factors. Whether workers respond positively to the principles of both theories depend on many human and social factors, and this helps us to better understand how organizational behaviour is dependent on context. I will attempt to outline and explain the rationale behind Taylor’s theory, and how it compares with Ford’s theory and application, which seems to build on the foundations introduced by Taylor. Only then can we see the contrasting successes of the two theories and evaluate their contribution toward our understanding of organisational behaviour.
Taylor’s Scientific Management and Ford’s Theory Taylor’s theory of scientific management (Taylor 1911) is established from the observations that he made from the experience of his own working life and is summed by 4 main principles which ultimately aim for maximum efficiency through loss of time and worker motivation by incentivized output. Firstly, in order to work out the optimal method of specific tasks, existing methods were gathered and experimented with using time and motion study. By conducting these experiments, he could change certain variables in the method to increase the workers’ ability in the given task, usually by reducing the number of movements required to complete the task, resulting in higher pace of production, and therefore higher efficiency, which Taylor prioritised above all. Secondly, once the optimal method was determined, it would be recorded and used by all the workers of the same task, which simplified and standardised the workers’ jobs, allowing for division of labour and job specialisation. Thirdly, further experimentation was used in order to select the best type of worker to match the requirements of a task, and once selected, would be trained according to the established optimal method for that task (Meyer, Ashleigh, Jones, George, 2007). This method is well illustrated in the pig-iron experiment; one of Taylor’s many time and motion experiments, where time loss is cut by experimenting with different workers to find those most suited to carry out pig irons. In this case if workers were able to lift 6 tons of pig iron per day but they could be incentivized to lift 5-6 times as much in the same time period, they would still fail to reach the optimal output of 30-36 tons left to their own initiative. Only a limited number of workers would still succeed, but this would serve to indicate who the best fit was for lifting pig irons, allowing for successful specialisation of the task in the workplace (NetMBA, unknown date). Finally, he observed that the worker was only interested in how much he was paid to carry out his job above all else, and the employer was most interested in productivity, and the profit which would arise from it. Therefore in order to satisfy both sides he reasoned that the employer should pay their workers accordingly to their output, thus motivating them to increase their productivity and benefit their employer (Morf, 1983). So in the pig iron experiment mentioned above, testing and observation by management could figure out the optimal method with the best timetable for work and rest so that the workers could reach their goal of multiplied output, thus benefiting the workers with higher pay for more output as part of the