Opinion: Jeff Bezos’s management strategy is about 100 years out of date

Editor’s note: Frederick Winslow Taylor’s “The Principles of Scientific Management,” published in 1911, was brought to light after the New York Times on Aug. 15 published a critique of Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos’s management strategies. Taylor’s principles have been revived as companies, including Amazon
seek to increase efficiency via new technology that quantifies worker productivity. Bezos, in an internal memo to staff, said of the Times story: “I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either.”

The following article lists the limits of Taylor’s management theory.

Frederick Winslow Taylor’s scientific management theory has been criticized by workers, trade unions and even employers. His theory is criticized on the following main grounds:

1. Exploitation of workers

Taylor’s scientific management put unnecessary pressure on employees to perform work faster. Importance was given to productivity and profitability. That resulted in exploitation of employees. Therefore, many employees joined trade unions. This also resulted in mistrust between management and employees.

2. Problem of unity of command

Taylor used functional foremanship. So workers would have to report to eight bosses. That violates the principle of unity of command, where workers must report to only one boss. Lack of unity of command can create confusion and chaos in organizations.

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3. Mechanical approach

Taylor had a mechanical approach. He gave too much importance to efficiency. He did not consider the human element. Taylor considered workers as robots capable of speeding up work regardless of cost.

4. Problem of separation of planning from doing

Taylor said planning must be separated from doing. In reality, though, we cannot separate planning from doing. Planners should also be engaged in doing, because it is only then that they will be able to make realistic plans for the organization.

5. Individualistic approach

Taylor’s scientific management gives too much importance to individual performance and not to group performance. However, the success of an organization depends not only on individual performance of workers but also on group performance of workers.

6. Wrong assumptions

Taylor assumed that workers are motivated only by financial gains. However, in reality, workers are motivated not only by financial incentives but also by social needs and personal ego.

7. Narrow application

Taylor’s scientific management has a narrow application. It can be applied only when the performance of workers is quantifiable, such as in factories. It cannot be used in the service sector because the performance of a person cannot be measured quantitatively.

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This article, originally titled “Criticism of Taylor’s Scientific Management,” was published with the permission of the Kalyan City Life Blog and writer Gaurav Akrani.

View more information: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/7-criticisms-of-jeff-bezos-management-strategy-2015-08-17

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