Scientific Management approaches

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Scientific Management Approaches


Scientific management theories were a huge success to organizations in the 20th century. Over the years, it has been influential and commonly applied in managerial practices (Awofeso, 2019). However, a lot has changed since the discovery of the scientific management approach. To a large extent, the principles of scientific management are losing their relevance in the contemporary organization, although several aspects still retain their applicability. Many of the 21st Century organizations’ central goal is to increase their output. With the urge to expand the business and to advance their structure, it unavoidably leads to a great uncertainty about the relevance of scientific management (Gull, 2017). The purpose of this report is to discuss the degree to which scientific management is outdated in contemporary organisations and to suggest alternative approaches. The scope of the paper includes the analysis of contemporary companies that utilize classical and scientific management style for Tencent and Alibaba. The paper begins by providing a discussion on classical management theory and its limitations in operation and future growth. It then asserts that in a rapidly developing world, consistent innovation on management styles is essential to making companies become better adapted to modern society. The success of classical management style in a culture that advocates for specialized and divided labor is mentioned. Notably, core elements of scientific management are outdated and barely apply to contemporary organizations even though some aspects of the style still provide efficiency today, requiring the use and application of more modern approaches that are more suited for contemporary organizations.

The management of current organization recognizes that for a business to attain success and be efficient, the control of every aspect of the workplace is discouraged compared to earlier organizations. However, today’s organizations understand that there is need to contribute to the employee development as well as their social wellbeing (Uddin & Hossain, 2015). After being scrutinized over the years, many theorists have identified a number of factors neglected by scientific management. One of them is that it tends to neglect social environment appreciation in the workplace. Many organizations today want their employees to feel a sense of belonging in order to improve their productivity. But in the case of scientific management, it has neglected the element of social environment which makes employees feel alienated (Gull, 2017). This is because employees in earlier organizations were forbidden from interacting with one another and instructed to focus on their work at hand. One more reason as to why it is not easy to implement scientific management in the contemporary world is due to the fact that employees want to feel that they are being valued and appreciated by the management. They also want to be given opportunities within the workplace in order to move up the corporate latter (Gull, 2017). But with the scientific style of management, this is close to impossible since the management disregards employees’ skills. All the management does is telling them to do highly repetitive and simplified tasks which as a result devalues their skills and competencies and consequently their output. Scientific management highly disregards the employees’ psychological and social side as Taylor concluded that the only thing that matters is money.

The classical management theory is best suited to the contemporary organizations. The market today has become more dynamic and global and the business environment is more complicated than before. As the most appropriate approach for contemporary organization, the classical management approach provides that employees today are more strongly motivated by physical needs and especially monetary incentives. According to Craig & Campbell (2012), the centralised management structure employed in the classical management approach ensures that employees focus on results through commands from the management, resulting in high efficiency. A sense of achievement and social status are bigger employee motivators (Alshmemri, Shahwan-Akl, & Maude, 2017). The management has a role to play in ensuring that there is high employee satisfaction so that high quality employees are retained and productivity is increased. Already, many organizations across the globe are implementing different variations of the classical management approach. Organizations today have a mandate to incorporate ways and regular opportunities for workers to gain rewards through incentives. However, the classical management theory has a number of limitations including the holding back of power only to the top management. There is a notable lack of individual creativity and judgment in the classically management workplace, which could in turn lead to reduced productivity and low employee commitment. The complex employee needs cannot be simply solved using an incentive system. The findings of Kitana (2016) point out that it is very difficult to motivate employees and even with the knowledge that a sense of motivation ensures satisfaction among employees. Classical management could result in a decrease in efficiency for an organization. To ensure that the contemporary workplace is more productive, the classical management approach highlights the importance of improving motivation among employees while increasing opportunities for employees to feel appreciated via incentives and meeting of their physical needs.

In a rapidly developing world, consistent innovation on management styles is essential to make companies better suited to meet the demands of a modern society, including understanding the needs of the employees and the demands of the consumers. The scientific management approach focuses on employee activities within the organization (Awofeso, 2019). The idea of the approach is to make sure that employees are more efficient to increase the production capacity of an organization. However, this approach no longer applies to the more evolved employee who is more sensitive and looking for opportunities to grow professionally and personally. Companies are transforming their management styles to conform to the needs of the modern society, for example how Tencent’s QQ and WeChat have changed their management styles to be more adaptive to the contemporary demands on organizations and society. Khan and Panarina (2017) advice organizations to constantly be adaptive to Eastern and Western management style, forming positive management practices. The need to transform is required for an organization to continue being competitive in a world where organizations are highly motivated to meet their objectives and goals. Liu & Wang (2011) assert that for firms that use imitative innovation as a strategy, the ability to imitate innovation is a key indicator of firm performance. The benefit of using an evolved structure of management for the contemporary organization is that employee’s competencies are more valued, human relations are one of the key factors in this style, resulting in better creativity from individuals (Soliman, 2011). Ultimately, management styles must remain adaptive to external and internal changes in an organization in order to gain and retain competitive advantage.

The success of classical management style in the Eastern nations is influenced by cultural factors including attitudes towards leadership, social organization, and values hinged on social welfare as opposed to individual wellbeing. A majority of the Eastern organizations, especially the Chinese companies, have complex leadership structures, generally autocratic management style that is largely accepted in the society (Zhu, 2017). For example, despite being fierce competitors in the same industry, Alibaba has a stark contrast with Tencent, as Alibaba follows a very strict autocratic management style and Eastern business values (Ee & Yazdanifard, 2015). Tencent, on the other hand, has a more evolved structure that combines a Westernized system that incorporates aspects of Eastern value systems. Therefore, the success of the classical management approach, including different variations of the same, point to the need for organizations to transform from using outdated systems to include more adaptable systems that yield competitive advantage and other shareholder and organizational goals.


The discussion above points out that the scientific management approach is not fully outdated, but imitations and innovations are essential to follow up the rapid developing world and diverse culture context. The classical management approach is also presented as a more suitable approach to management as it is easily adaptable to the demands of a more modern workforce. A focus on Tencent’s QQ and WeChat and Alibaba have further provided real life examples on why a rapidly developing world requires contemporary management approaches. The research implication is that policy, theory, practice, and subsequent research must focus on creating evolved management structures that are sensitive to the needs of the modern society, comparative to older structures.


Awofeso, O. (2019) Managing Formal Organizations in the 21st Century: A Critique of Fredrick Taylor’s Scientific Management Theory. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337718544_Managing_Formal_Organizations_in_the_21st_Century_A_Critique_of_Fredrick_Taylor’s_Scientific_Management_TheoryAlshmemri, M., Shahwan-Akl, L., & Maude, P. (2017). Herzberg’s two-factor theory. Life Science Journal, 14(5), 12-16.

Craig, T., & Campbell, D. (2012). Organisations and the Business Environment. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

Ee, C. T., & Yazdanifard, R. (2015). The Review of Alibaba’s Operation Management Details that have Navigated them to Success. Global Journal of Management and Business Research: A Administration and Management, 15(4), 51-55.

Gull, R. (2017). Scientific Management; Concept, Principles, And Relevance. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention, 6(1), 2319 – 7714. Retrieved from http://www.ijhssi.org/papers/v6(11)/Version-5/J0611056870.pdfKhan, M. A., & Panarina, E. (2017). The role of national cultures in shaping the corporate management cultures: A four countries theoretical analysis. Journal of Eastern European and Central Asian Research, 4(1).

Kitana, A. (2016). Overview of the Managerial Thoughts and Theories from the History: Classical Management Theory to Modern Management Theory. Indian Journal of Management Science, 6(1), 16-21.

Liu, S., Wang, W. (2011). Construction of Human Resource Practice in Enterprise: Based on Imitation Innovation Strategic——A Case Study by Tencent Computer System Co.Ltd, 31(13), 5-8.

Soliman, F. (2011). Modelling the Role of Human Resources Management in the Innovation Chain. International Employee Relations Review, 17(2), 1-20.

Uddin, N., & Hossain, F. (2015). Evolution of modern management through Taylorism: An adjustment of Scientific Management comprising behavioral science. Procedia Computer Science, 62, 578-584.

Zhu, V. (2017). Examining Cultural Influences on Leadership Styles and Learning From Chinese Approaches to Management: Emerging Research and Opportunities (Advances . . . Operations, and Management Science (ALOMS)) (1st ed.) [E-book]. IGI Global.

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