Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Formal Blog

The Science of Management

Science and Management at first glance seem very distant entities. Science is a topic for scientists, researchers, and education. Management for men clad in suits tucked away in office buildings. After reading The Principles of Scientific Management these ideas must be completely overhauled. Principles of Scientific management presents so much data to the reader that it is impossible to deny its worth in the management field. The figures and examples in the text are overwhelming in both there depth and number making the argument compelling, practically begging to be implemented. One character that is apparently rather familiar with this form of management is Hank Morgan of A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court. Hank’s theories and management style while building his Camelot Empire are eerily similar to the principles outlined by Frederick Winslow Taylor.

The instance in Taylor’s book where these principles are occurs on page 13. Taylor states “These new duties are grouped under four heads: First. They develop a science for each element of a man’s work, which replaces the old rule-of-thumb method. Second. They scientifically select and then train, teach, and develop the workman, whereas in the past he chose his own work and trained himself as best he could. Third. They heartily cooperate with the men so as to insure all of the work being done in accordance with the principles of the science which has been developed. Fourth. There is an almost equal division of work and responsibility between management and the workmen.”

When Hank plans to begin his “revolution” he uses at least a form of each of these principles. First, he sets up schools for the different types of work he will have the reformed peasants will do. Whether it be a military institution, factory, or technology operator. Hank uses these schools to completely retool the people’s thought process from one of feudal management to that of modern nineteenth-century ideals.

Second, Hank specifically picks the people he decides to trust. Hank surrounds himself with people who are willing to accept his ideals. He begins by recruiting Clarence for his tower explosion due to Clarence’s willingness to listen to him and follow orders, which makes him ideal as a right-hand man. When choosing people he will send to the colony Hank seeks out those who are down-trodden, willing to accept new ideals and receptive to the training he will bestow upon them.

Third, Hank attempts to change the form of management from that of patrons who oppress and brutalized their workforce to that of a collective management team driven by the ideas of nineteenth-century.

Fourth, Hank certainly shares in an equal responsibility for the work they are doing. When the church rises against Hank and his revolution he stands by his followers until the end fighting with them to keep his ideals alive.

Another thing that is striking is Taylor’s and Hank’s view of the average worker. Taylor on page 22 when speaking about the worker declares “He is so stupid that the word “percentage” has no meaning to him, and he must be consequently be trained by a man more intelligent than himself” Hank very obviously views the medieval people as beneath him, na├»ve and needing him and his people to teach them what they want and need namely, A republic.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

Although one might raise some questions about the connection you make between Twain and Taylor, it's certainly a solid starting point for an argument.

One question I have is actually identical to a question I had re: Eric B's post, right before yours, but didn't ask there. What is the significance of the fact that only 52 remain loyal to Hank? Why do the techniques of scientific management (you've given us at least credible reasons to refer to Hank that way), if they are really about reconciling the interests of labor and capital, so ineffective at getting and retaining loyalty?

One might ask, for instance, what you make of Twain's critique of religion - or whether that's what is really being critiqued. I would have liked, ideally, to see you pushing these sorts of questions a little bit farther.