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Taylor put forward the idea that workers are motivated mainly by pay.

His Theory of Scientific Management argued the following:

  • Workers do not naturally enjoy work and so need close supervision and control

  • Therefore managers should break down production into a series of small tasks

  • Workers should then be given appropriate training and tools so they can work as efficiently as possible on one set task.

  • Workers are then paid according to the number of items they produce in a set period of time- piece-rate pay.

  • As a result workers are encouraged to work hard and maximise their productivity.

    Taylor's methods were widely adopted as businesses saw the benefits of increased productivity levels and lower unit costs.

    Taylor's approach has close links with the concept of an autocratic management style (managers take all the decisions and simply give orders to those below them) and Macgregor's Theory X approach to workers (workers are viewed as lazy and avoid responsibility).

    However workers soon came to dislike Taylor's approach as they were only given boring, repetitive tasks to carry out. Firms could also afford to lay off workers as productivity levels increased. This led to an increase in strikes and other forms of industrial action by dissatisfied workers

    Key summary for Taylor:

Workers given one repetitive task so they can learn to master it

  • Managers should give orders and closely control workers

  • Workers should be paid per item they produced – piece rate


  • Elton Mayo (1880 – 1949) believed that workers are not just concerned with money but could be better motivated by having their social needs met whilst at work (something that Taylor ignored). He introduced the Human Relation School of thought, which focused on managers taking more of an interest in the workers, treating them as people who have worthwhile opinions and realising that workers enjoy interacting together.

  • Mayo conducted a series of experiments at the Hawthorne factory of the Western Electric Company in Chicago

  • He isolated two groups of women workers and studied the effect on their productivity levels of changing factors such as lighting and working conditions.

  • He expected to see productivity levels decline as lighting or other conditions became progressively worse

  • What he actually discovered surprised him: whatever the change in lighting or working conditions, the productivity levels


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