Meaning, Definition Characteristics and Features Scientific Management


The term scientific management is the combination of two words i.e. scientific and management. The word “Scientific” means systematic analytical and objective approach while “management” means getting things done through others. In simple words Scientific management means application of principles and methods of science in the field of management. “Scientific management is the art of knowing best and cheapest way”. It is the art of knowing exactly what is to be done by whom it is to be done and what is the best and cheapest way of doing it. Scientific methods and techniques are applied in the field of management i.e., recruitment, selection, training, placement of workers and methods of doing work in the best and cheapest way.


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The Scientific management can be studied under the following heads:

  • Primary principles of scientific management as evolved by F.W. Taylor.
  • Secondary principles of scientific management.


Definitions of Scientific Management

The main definitions of scientific management are as follows:

According to Fredrick Winslow Taylor, “Scientific management means knowing exactly what you want men to do and seeing that they do it in the best and the cheapest way.”

According to Harlow Person, “Scientific management characterizes that form of organisation and procedure in purposive collective effort which rests on principles or laws derived by the process of scientific investigation and analysis, instead of tradition or on policies determined empirically and casually by the process of trial and error.”


According to Jones, “Scientific management is a body of rules, together with their appropriate expression in physical and administrative mechanism and specialized executives, to be operated in coordination as a system for the achievement of a new strictness in the control and process of production.”

According to Lioyd, Dodd and zynch, In broad outline “Scientific management seeks to get the maximum from methods, men materials machines and money and it controls the works of production from the location and layout of the worker to the final distribution of the product.”

According to Peter F. Drucker, ” Scientific management is the organized study of work, the analysis of work into its simplest element and the systematic improvement of the workers”.

Characteristics / Features of Scientific Management


The main characteristics or features of scientific management are as follows:

  • Approach: It is a systematic, analytical and objective approach to solve industrial problems.
  • Economy: The basis of scientific management is economy. For implementing economy, all the unnecessary elements of production are eliminated and a sincere effort is made to achieve optimum production at the minimum cost.
  • A Definite plan: The main characteristic of scientific management is that before starting and work there must be a definite plan before as and the work is to be done strictly according to that plan.
  • Discards old methods: It discards the age old methods of rule of thumb and hit or miss approach.
  • Emphasis: It lays emphasis on all factors of production, men, material and technology.
  • Techniques: It implies scientific techniques in methods of work, recruitment, selection and training of workers.
  • Attempts: It attempts to develop each man to his greatest efficiency and prosperities.
  • Method: It attempts to discover the best method of doing a work at the cheapest cost.
  • A definite Aim: It is another main characteristic of scientific management. Scientific management is the process of organizing, directing, conducting and controlling human activities. Hence there must be a definite aim before the managers, so that the human activities be organized directed conducted and controlled for achieving that aim or aims.
  • changes in attitude: It involves a complete change in the mental attitude of workers as well as the management.
  • A Set of Rules: There must be a set of rules in accordance with the laid plan so that the objectives can be achieved. According to F.W. Taylor, It is no single element but rather the whole combination that constitutes the scientific management.

Primary Principles of scientific management as evolved by F.W. Taylor:

F.W. Taylor, the father of scientific management evolved the following five primary principle of scientific management:

Science, not Rule of Thumb
Rule of thumb was the technique of pre-scientific management era. Taylor maintained that the rule of thumb should be replaced by scientific knowledge. While rule of thumb emphasizes mere estimation, scientific method denotes precision in determining any aspect of work. This should be done with the help of careful scientific investigation. Exactness of various aspects of work like day’s fair work, standardization in work, differential price rate for payment etc. is the basic care of scientific management. therefore, it is essential that these should be measured precisely and not on mere estimates.

Harmony not Discord
Taylor emphasized that harmony rather than discord should be obtained in group action. Harmony means that a group should work as a unit and contribute to the maximum. Within it there should be mutual give and take situation and proper understanding.

Co-operation not Individualism
Scientific management requires that parts of industrial body co-operate with each other, scientific management is based on mutual confidence, co-operation and goodwill. It requires a complete mental revolution on the part of both workers and management. Taylor suggested “Substitution of war for peace, hearty and brotherly co-operation for contention and strife, replacement of suspicious watchfulness with mutual confidence of becoming friends instead of enemies.”

The Development of each man to his greatest efficiency and prosperity
In order to maximize production all possible efforts are made to increase the efficiency of workers. Workers are selected according to the nature of work. It includes scientific training, scientific allotment of work, implementation of incentive wage plan above all, development of workers to the fullest extent for themselves and also for the companies highest prosperity. Scientific management leads to the development of each worker to his greatest efficiency and prosperity.

Secondary principles of scientific management:

Standardization of Tools and Equipments
Another principles of scientific management is the standardization of tools and equipments. it is essential for the improvement of quality of products and also for bringing about uniformity in the production of standard goods. As a matter of fact, standardization should be maintained in respect of tools, equipments, materials, period of work, working conditions, amount of work, cost of production etc.

Scientific Selection and Training of Workers
Scientific management requires a radical change in the selection and training or workers. They must be selected on a scientific basis. The old traditional and absolute method of selection of workers have to be replaced by the scientific and modern methods. Taylor suggested that the workers should be selected on scientific basis taking into account their educational background, health, work experience, aptitude, physical, strength and I.Q. etc. Further, proper training by qualified persons should be given according to their capabilities and nature of work.

Experimentation and Scientific Investigation
The success of scientific management depends upon experimentation and investigation. It involves analytical study, observation research, experimentation and investigation. It is only through constant experimentation and scientific investigation that one can find out the best and most efficient methods of doing a work. It has been rightly said that experimentation and investigation is the life-blood of scientific management. Under scientific management too.

Incentive Wage System
Taylor for the first time advocated an incentive wage system in the form of differential piece wages instead of time wages. Under differential piece system two wage rates are prescribed, i.e. one lower and the other higher. Those who are unable to perform standard work within standard time are paid wages at lower rate per unit. On the contrary, those who attain standard or even more within the standard time are paid wages at higher rate per unit. Thus, there is considerable difference in wages between those who attain and those who do not attain standards.

Efficient attain system
Another important principle of scientific management is the efficient costing system. It is an essential element of scientific management. The management is interested in knowing the cost of production not only total cost but cost at every stage of production. Besides, it must see there is no waste, and proper cost control has been ensured.

Scientific Allotment of Task
Another important principle of scientific management is the scientific allotment of task. Every job must be entrusted to the best available man according to his aptitude and training for that specific job. As a matter of fact, every person, however efficient he may be, cannot perform all the jobs efficiently. One has to carefully fit “the man to the job”, and “the job to the man”. The principle of ‘right job to the right person’ should be implemented. A worker may perform his task most efficiently provided it suits his inclination aptitude taste and capability.

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