Explain why Taylorism is an inappropriate theory of motivation for engineers within amodern workplace setting

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In my mind, one of the fundamental problems with Taylor's methodology is that it does not take into account the role of individual autonomy and decision making in the work process.  If all jobs or positions are singular in focus and akin to assembly line where products and processes never change, then Taylorism might make sense as it is so very regimented and directed.  The reality is that the modern workplace is one where tasks are open ended.  Jobs with a sense of creativity in both process and product highlight this workplace and the need for employees who can troubleshoot solutions to problems not even envisioned is critically important.  The spirit of modern collaboration between management and employees is absent in Taylorism, something highly evident in the modern workplace setting.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In my opinion, this is because the work that engineers do is not compatible with Taylorism.  Taylorism is best used as a way of monitoring and motivating relatively unskilled workers who are doing a job that requires little thought or creativity.  I do not think that engineers fit these criteria.

Taylorism, to me, means the use of things like time and motion studies.  It is a way of breaking down the parts of a task to be sure that the worker is performing each task as efficiently as possible.  It can be used to motivate workers because the time and motion study can tell a manager how long the task should be taking.  The manager can then basically tell the worker "you're not going fast enough -- speed up or be fired."

I do not think that you can motivate skilled workers in this way, especially if they are doing a task that needs thought.  You cannot tell them "think faster."  You cannot really break down the task either -- you can't really say "you have 1 hour to think about this part of the design..."

Because engineers are doing skilled work that requires thought, Taylorism is not useful in motivating them, in my opinion.

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