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a global society Fordism and scientific managem

FORDISM, SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT AND THE LESSONS FOR CONTEMPORARY ORGANISATIONS

Fordism and Scientific Management are terms used to describe management that had application to practical situations with extremely dramatic effects.  Fordism takes its name from the mass production units of Henry Ford, and is identified by an involved technical division of labour within companies and their production units.  Other characteristics of Fordism include strong hierarchical control, with workers in a production line often restricted to the one single task, usually specialised and unskilled. Scientific management, on the other hand,  “originated” through Fredrick Winslow Taylor in 1911, and in very basic terms described the one best way work could be done and that the best way to improve output was to improve the techniques or methods used by the workers. (Robbins p.38)
Many comparisons can be made between the two theories, such as the mechanisation, fragmentation and specialisation of work and that a lack of intellectual or skilled content will speed up the work at hand. Fordism's mechanisation of mass production further emphasised many of Taylor’s popular beliefs about management being divorced from human affairs and emotions, using ‘humans as instruments or machines to be manipulated by their leaders’ (Hersey p.84).  Fordism fused and emphasised the scientific methods to get things done by Ford’s successful mass-production processes. Contrasts also exist between the two theories. Fordism dehumanisied the worker whereas scientific management convinced the workers that their goals could be readily achieved along with their employers goals, therefore they should all work together in this direction.   Fordism suited industrial companies participating in mass production, whereas Scientific Management could be used in many types of organisation. Large companies such as Ford Motors, The Reichskuratorium fur Wirtschaftkichkeit (RKW) in Germany examples these theories in practice. These theories of the past are lessons for the way modern organisations are run today. Managers now realise that they should treat their workers more democratically and since the mid-70’s, sweeping changes in markets and technology have encouraged managers and manufacturers to use greater product diversity and more flexible methods of production. Movements towards a more flexible organisation have become apparent.  Examples of orgainisations such as Nissan, NASA and Toyota serve as modern day examples of post-Fordism and depict movement towards a modified Scientific Management.

Comparisons that can be made include Fordism's mechanisation of mass production and Taylor’s attempts at using employees as machines. Taylor designed this using his principles of management that included developing a science for each element of work and finding the quickest way the job could be done. Henry Ford’s ideal types of Fordist production system included using fixed and dedicated machines in individuals work, rather than turning the employee into a machine. (Hollinshead 1995)

With Taylor attempting to prove to the world that there was a science to management and that the quickest way was the best way, he attacked the incompetence of managers for their inefficiencies in running the railroads and factories. Using time and motion studies, Taylor achieved productivity increases of up to 200 per cent. (Dunphy, 1998, p.4). His thoughts were echoed by others: during a 1910 Interstate Commerce Commission hearing, Louis D. Brandeis argued that US railroads could save a million dollars a day if they introduced scientific management into their operations (Oakes, 1996). Taylor showed the world that the methodical and scientific study of work could lead to improved efficiency. He believed that by defining clear guidelines for workers many improvements could be made to the production of goods. Fordism like Scientific Management in the newly mechanised industries of the early 20th century emphasised that efficiency came from precision in job design, clear division of responsibilities and tight policing of implementation (Taylor, 1911). Taylorism and Fordism were consistent with notions of the organisation as “ a ‘military machine’ first developed by Frederick the Great of Prussia, and later refined by Henri Fayol”. (Taplin, 1995, p.430)

Scientific Management encouraged firms to improve efficiency by analysing individual processes of industrial production and then recreating them to produce maximum output from any given size labor force. (Hudson, 1997) Ford's production-line innovations compounded scientific management’s efficiencies into the economy. Taylor believed it would be best to scientifically select, train, teach and develop ... more

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Glass Ceiling

THE GLASS CEILING
by
Reading an article about the Glass ceiling triggered my curiosity, and I began to think how this could affect my daughter and her goals and aspirations.  According to the Department of Labor, females account for 43.99% of the workforce as of May 2001, but only a small fraction of women have succeeded in attaining senior level positions.  This fact makes it difficult to discount the allegations of inequality between men and women in the workplace, and proves that the effects of the glass ceiling are still prevalent.
The glass ceiling has been defined as an invisible barrier analogous to subtle male discrimination, which was as hard to pin down as it was effective in limiting women.(Steiner 666) While overt discrimination has decreased due to the consequences of legal actions, subtle discrimination on the other hand is still common business practice in many organizations.  Case studies have shown that subtle discrimination is based on establishing invisible barriers, which prevent high performing women from reaching their potential.  The following factors contribute to the strength of the glass ceiling and prevent it from shattering.  The first constraint has been described as gender based assumptions about careers and aspirations. (McCracken 160) The second hurdle limits the advancement opportunities for high performing and ambitious women.  Finally, the absence of formal and informal leadership development and networking possibilities exacerbate the inequality.
Gender Based Assumptions.  One of the most damaging perceptions is the belief that women are primarily focused on family and their secondary focus is on their career.  It is generally an accepted fact that the majority of childcare responsibilities fall on women. This suggests that men are completely focused on work priorities, while women are not that dependable, because their loyalty is to their families.  An example of this perception was given in the Harvard Business Review article, Winning the Talent War for Women.  Managers of Deloitte & Touche were presented with the following scenario: Two team members, a man and a woman both single parents, arrived late to a meeting. Evaluating this situation the managers joked and forgot the mans tardiness, but assumed the woman was having childcare problems.  A female manager even went further and suggested that the woman think seriously about her priorities.  
More recently women have gained equal access into entry-level professional positions at many prestigious firms.  Initially there is not a gap, because this places them at the same starting point with the male counter parts.  However, subtle discrimination and unchecked assumptions about female attributes provide the high achieving men with more opportunities to excel throughout their careers, consequently widening the gender gap.  While high performing men are often put on the fast track, high performing women are often prevented from achieving their highest potential.  Many high profile assignments and projects will elude women, because of the common belief that women could leave at any time to have and raise children.  
Lack of Opportunity for Advancement.   A report issued by the American Psychological Association states a series of studies have shown that almost all people have trouble detecting a pattern of discrimination unless they are faced with a flagrant example or have access to aggregated data documenting discrimination.  The glass ceiling is based on a very subtle form of discrimination, which is contrary to the flagrant warning signs necessary for detection by most people.  However, aggregated data has been collected, which documents the disproportion between men and women in senior level management positions.   The significant question to be answered is: Are there just not enough qualified women to fulfill senior management roles, or are other factors, more subtle obstacles preventing their access to the top of the career ladder?
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, in her article Pro & Con: The Myth of the Glass Ceiling claims that the small number of women in management positions is based on the fact that there are just more qualified men than women.  She states that todays senior managers have the right qualifications, that is, a graduate degree and 25 years of continuos work experience.  Not too many women graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree 25 years ago, and therefore the qualified female pool is much smaller.  Some of the ... more

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