Scientific Management Theory and Fordism: Comparative Analysis

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1608 |

Pages: 4|

9 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2023

Words: 1608|Pages: 4|9 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2023

Table of contents

  1. The Principle of Scientific Management: Maximizing Prosperity 
  2. Fordism: the Mass Production System and Economic Boom
  3. Conclusion
  4. Bibliography

Ford's theory of Fordism and Taylor's Scientific Management are discussed in this essay from the perspective of their utility for managers today. I will be looking at the separately and how organisations implement aspects and elements of these theories on a day-to-day basis. I will then evaluate how effective these theories have been in the 21st centaury.

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The Principle of Scientific Management: Maximizing Prosperity 

Frederick Winslow Taylor was an engineer by training. He joined the Midvale Steel Works as a labourer and rose rapidly to be the foreman and later chief engineer. He was afterwards employed at the Bethlehem Steel Works, then became a consultant and devoted his time to the propagation of his ideas. Taylor was the founder of the idea called Scientific Management, which is he describes as ‘The principle of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity of each employee. For the employer maximum prosperity means not just large profits in the short term, but development of all aspects of the enterprise to a state of permanent prosperity. For employees ‘maximum prosperity’ means not just immediate higher wages, but personal development so that they may perform efficiently in the highest grade of work for which their natural abilities fit them in. To understand Taylorism and the principle of Scientific Management one needs to know what prosperity is, prosperity is defined as ‘a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects; good fortune’. Taylor believes that all parts of management and workers within an organisation need to work together to effectively achieve maximum prosperity. Taylor set out to find the solution and originally thought that this could be achieved by a systematic study in which laid out the best way to do any certain job and then a systematic study of management in the most efficient way of controlling workers. Essentially Taylors idea was to reduce costs and increase output. Taylor made a huge impression on business and industry in America where it was clear that any incompetent man could be fitted in somewhere else to use his abilities instead of being fired.

Taylors theory of Scientific Management is still present today and is constantly used by business and organisation managers. Every manager in today’s organisations will implement their own ideas of management but will however have to use elements of theories that are proven to work, and Taylors is one of the most successful theories. An example of a company in the 21st century who use elements of the Scientific management theory is McDonalds. McDonalds has adapted a standardised process that allows any employee to do the task of making a burger. This standardisation of how to make the burger has proven very successful for McDonalds as it means any employee within the franchise can step into the role of making the burger if the designated employee is preoccupied. Furthermore, another example of McDonalds implementing the Scientific Management theory within its organisation is they reward their employees for achieving and meeting their goals. McDonalds has a service rewards programme that celebrates and rewards employees for reaching key milestones. Taylor stated that a non-incentive wage system wouldn’t encourage the employees to go above and beyond within their work as it doesn’t matter how much more they do, they are still paid the same as co-workers who do their bare minimum, McDonald's establish competitive wage and promotion programs, hard work, dedication, motivation and results are recognized and rewarded at McDonald's. The way the employees are rewarded varies from a simple well done by their management team or, a companywide praise of receiving employee of the month. Finally, scientific training is one of the most important principles of Scientific Management. Taylor states that companies must scientifically train their employees and not to just leave them to train themselves on the job This element of Taylors theory can be seen within the McDonalds management, they invest £43 million into training and development every year and is constantly recognised as an efficient training program by experts. Employees are trained from the get-go and on the first shift training is started. Employees must past 3 tests within the first month, therefore high-quality testing and work creates high quality and efficient food production. From this example we can see that Scientific Management is a theory that is still used today in one of the largest organisations in the world.

Fordism: the Mass Production System and Economic Boom

Henry Ford was founder of Ford Motor Company, a young Ford showed an early interest in mechanics, by the age of 12 he was spent the majority of his time in a self-assembled mechanic shop, by 15 he had assembled his first functioning steam engine. He then became an apprentice to a mechanic in Detroit where he learnt more of the trade, after completing his apprenticeship he spent a year setting up and repairing Westinghouse steam engines. In 1891 he was employed as an engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company, 2 years later he became chief engineer. Here he would build a relationship with Thomas Edison, who would stay a lifelong mentor and friend to Henry Ford. Ford completed his first Ford car, the Quadricycle in 1896. He later had to resign from Edison Illuminating Company and for a few years carried on building cars, however in 1901 he founded his second venture, The Henry Ford Company, thus would later become the Cadillac Motor Company. On June 16, 1903, Ford and 12 others invested $28,000, equivalent to $830,000 today and created Ford Motor Company. In 1919 he bought the stakeholders out to have full autonomy of the company. 

Henry Ford created Fordism. Fordism is a term used to describe firstly the system of mass production or secondly the post war economic boom and its associated political and social order in advanced capitalism. It refers to a way of economic life developed around the mass production of consumer goods using assembly-line technology. Fordism is ‘the eponymous manufacturing system designed to spew out standardized, low-cost goods and afford its workers decent enough wages to buy them’. The success of Fordism was stemmed from three major principles outlined by Ford:

  • The standardization of the product (nothing handmade, but everything is made by machines controlled by unskilled workers)
  • The employment of assembly lines, which use special-purpose tools andor equipment to allow unskilled workers to contribute to the finished product
  • Workers are paid higher “living” wages so that they can afford the products they make

His assembly line was revolutionary for Ford Motor Company but not original, this technology was already being used by slaughterhouses, however he made the advancement of breaking down complex tasks into simpler ones and implementing specialised tools that are easy to use.

Today many companies have shifted from an industrial, Fordist to a post-industrial, post-Fordist. Post-Fordism offers to increase both organisational flexibility and individual autonomy. The old ways of managing time are fast disappearing. Fixed jobs, shared rhythms of leisure, marriage, work and retirement are on the way out. An example of an organisation that uses forms of Fordism and Post-Fordism is Apple. Apple is a multinational technology company that designs, develops and sells consumer electronics, computer software and online services. Apple products are created and assembled on an assembly line, the largest factory comes from a Foxconn Factory in Zhengzhou, China which employs 350,000 people. The employees live in the city which is now conned ‘iPhone city’. The working conditions are described as unbearable and this is why you don’t see many other companies adopting the assembly line technology anymore, it manages to carry on in china where human rights are ignored and working conditions are bad everywhere with workers on less than minimum wage. However, Apples use of Fordism has been very productive, they are the leading phone company and can get product to consumers anywhere in the world rapidly. The mass scale of production apple has managed to achieve has meant that the government turn a blind eye to what is going on and, in some cases, have helped apple keep the factories going by, tax incentives, new roads and bonuses to factories that meet export requirements. It can be argued that because the government supports this production, Fordism is still able to be in present day, where most companies that used to have a Fordism management system have adopted more of a scientific management theory.


Both of these theories, in the 21st centaury have been linked and used to work together within an organisations structure, organisations are using the principles of Scientific Management workers’ rights with Fordism’s rapid production ideas to create a safe and humane work environment whilst also keeping costs low and production rate high.

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To conclude, it can be argued that both Taylorism and Fordism are two management theories that are still used today by large multinational organisations. Organisations are using aspects of both these theories and adapting them to fit into their management. These theories have also been heavily linked to work together within one organisation structure


  • Beckers, T., 1999. The expropriation of time: the end of Fordist work and leisure. s.l.:Lancaster University.
  • Company, F. M., 2021. Henry Ford Biography. [Online] Available at:[Accessed 6 1 2021].
  • Devex, 2021. Apple Inc.. [Online] Available at: https:www.devex.comorganizationsapple-inc-54609[Accessed 7 1 2021].
  • Dictionary, O. E., 2020. Oxford English Dictionary. s.l.:Oxford University Press.
  • Freeman, M., 1996. Scientific Management - 100 years old; Poised for the next century. s.l.:Society for the Advancement of Management.
  • Grazia, V. D., 2005. Irresistible Empire: America's Advance Through 20th-Century Europe. s.l.:Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • J., P. D. S. a. H. D., 2003. Great Writers on Organizations, the 2nd Omnibus Edition. s.l.:s.n.
  • Jacobs, H., 2018. Inside 'iPhone City,' the massive Chinese factory town where half of the world's iPhones are produced. [Online] Available at: https:www.businessinsider.comapple-iphone-factory-foxconn-china-photos-tour-2018-5?r=US
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Scientific Management Theory and Fordism: Comparative Analysis. (2023, August 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from
“Scientific Management Theory and Fordism: Comparative Analysis.” GradesFixer, 14 Aug. 2023,
Scientific Management Theory and Fordism: Comparative Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2024].
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