Organizational Theory and Behavior: Frederick Taylor, Max Weber, and Henri Fayol
Since its emergence as a field of study, there have been some important contributions to public administration. Its goal has always been to improve productivity which then improves workplace performance. All of the contributions have been aimed at completing the work with the highest level of efficiency and at the lowest cost.
Public administration disciples have sought to find the best way to rid organizations of inefficiency and waste. This led to changes to the very foundations of management and motivation theories. To increase efficiency, Max Weber and Frederick Taylor made changes to the process and the rules; while Henri Fayol fixated on the human element. While Weber, Taylor, and Fayol all sought to enhance workplace operations, they differ in their assessments of what and/or who could be the catalyst for this change.
Frederick Taylor thought that changes in the work process and/or rules would advance efficiency and productivity. He originated the scientific management approach in public administration. It was based on the idea that work processes should be observed via experiments which would greatly improve productivity. It would do so by doing away with the rule of thumb work methods and replacing them with the results of actual timed observations (14). The application of the scientific approach to management methods would lead to optimizing task time by simplifying the job. It would mean observing work processes to find the one best way to perform each job (15). Once the best way was discovered, all employees were to use it. The simplification of the job would improve task time. This method would lead to increased productivity, higher wages, and better working conditions. It could also make people experts in their jobs. In essence, Taylor believed management improvements happened from the bottom up. In his system, the employee was the starting point. Therefore, educate the worker first on how to improve work processes which would then travel up to management. The workers and management would share the workload with management executing the science and the workers performing the labor. Taylor believed that this division of labor was the best method to increase both efficiency and productivity (148).
Like Taylor, Max Weber thought that changes in the rules and/or work processes would affect change more readily than the human element. Weber focused on bureaucracy in business but followed Taylor’s scientific management concepts. He agreed with Taylor’s thoughts on standardization and an established chain of command. Weber favored close supervision and uniformity. Weber also supported Taylor’s theory that division of labor and specialization were important to increasing efficiency. Weber believed that tasks must be broken down into the smallest subset of tasks possible. This would increase efficiency and reduce training for new workers. Weber’s focus was on...