What is Taylorism

The Taylorism is a work management system based on various techniques for optimal use of hired labor.

It was developed in the early nineteenth century, from studies of the movements of man and machine in manufacturing processes.


Taylorism emphasizes the operational efficiency of the tasks performed, which seeks to extract the best performance from each employee.

Therefore, it is a system of rationalization of the work conceived in scientific molds. Thus, every aspect of the work must be studied and developed scientifically.

Thus, with the analysis of the productive processes, it was possible to improve the working capacity of the workers. The focus was to save the most in terms of productive effort.


Maximizing the potential of each worker was one of Taylorism’s goals.

We must emphasize that Taylorism is not concerned with technological innovations, but with the possibilities of controlling the production line.

Through continuous standardization, the establishment of a supervisory and control system, man was eventually transformed into a piece of machine. However, this is what gave rise to working conditions capable of increasing productivity and profit.

Frederick Taylor and Taylorism

The term Taylorism refers to the American engineer Frederick Taylor (1856-1915), considered one of the founders of the Scientific Administration.

In fact, Taylor was a pioneer in developing a management model in which the company is considered scientifically.

Taylor became interested in this type of management while still a machine operator at “Midvale Steel” in Philadelphia, where he began his research.

Based on observing the working methods of the workers, he found that, under a controlled work rate, the workers were much more productive.

Taylor later graduated as a mechanical engineer in 1885 and in 1906 became president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering. His ideas would definitely influence the Second Industrial Revolution.

His most important works are: “A system of price per piece” (1895); “Workshop Administration” (1903); and “Principles of Scientific Management” (1911), his masterpiece.

Taylorism Innovations

Taylorism basically employs five principles, namely:

  • replacement of experience-based methods with scientifically tested methodologies;
  • selection and rigorous training of workers in order to discover their best skills, which must be continuously improved
  • continuous supervision of work;
  • disciplined execution of tasks to avoid waste;
  • fractionation of work on the assembly line to singularize the productive functions of each worker, thus reducing their autonomy.

Taylorism Innovations

Periodic worker evaluation was one of the bases of Taylorism

In addition, it is attributed to Taylor:

  • the study of methodologies to avoid worker fatigue,
  • productivity-proportional wage stimulus, with performance awards,
  • the hierarchy of the production chain, which removes manual labor from intellectual work and guarantees the management, which has the general knowledge of production, control over workers.

Taylor’s ideas inspired entrepreneurs like Henry Ford to create an assembly line method that would be called Fordism.

Taylorism and Fordism

Taylor’s ideas directly inspired Henry Ford to improve the production of his cars.

Taylorism is not a productive model but a theoretical analysis of work organization and administration. Thus, the business owner could cut costs and maximize profits.

On the other hand, Ford and other entrepreneurs will take these ideas to their factories and make production more efficient by specializing their work.

Criticism of Taylorism

Taylorism suffers some criticism, considering that, in seeking the maximum use of the productive force, it ends up ignoring certain basic needs of workers, who start to feel exploited and dissatisfied.

Consequently, these workers are now viewed as disposable parts of the system, and this has led to workers’ opposition to the application of Taylorism.

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