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Scientific Management Theory in Contemporary Business


At present, there are countless management frameworks and leadership styles that maximize the productivity of organizations and individuals. Scientific Management Theory was one of the initial systematic approaches to manufacturing that emphasized hierarchy, maximum efficiency, and analytics (Hill and Van Buren, 2018). It was first mentioned by Frederick Winslow Taylor in his fundamental work The Principles of Scientific Management in 1911 (Hill and Van Buren, 2018). The framework met significant criticism and backlash due to its dehumanization policies and the objective to suppress human creativity. Nevertheless, in the context of the early 20th century, scientific management proved to be a highly effective system (Hill and Van Buren, 2018). The primary principles of the framework include a scientific approach to maximize labor productivity, standardization of instruments and behaviors, functional cooperation, and immediate supervision (Hill and Van Buren, 2018). In reality, however, these policies are frequently exploited to dehumanize workers and increase manufacturing productivity with no regard for human creativity and well-being. Ultimately, the current paper examines the application of scientific management in contemporary business to determine its relevance in the 21st century.

Scientific Management in Contemporary Business: Amazon and McDonald’s

While Scientific Management Theory was more prevalent in the 20th century, some global corporations utilize the primary principles of the framework even today. In the delivery services and physical retail industry, Amazon is the leading company, which is frequently criticized for its inhumane attitude to labor and employee treatment (Sainato, 2020). McDonald’s is a general example of scientific management principles in the fast-food industry, albeit many fast-food chains utilize standardized labor. Ultimately, the two companies transparently demonstrate the primary principles of scientific management in contemporary business.

Amazon utilizes the analytical approach to maximize the employees’ productivity and establish direct control over warehouse management. It allows the company to minimize the expenses of logistics and reduce the delivery time, making Amazon one of the best companies for customers (Lossa, 2018). Nevertheless, direct supervision over workers’ actions, comparison of their performance, and penalties for mistakes make Amazon a less attractive option for employees. The corporation establishes productivity standards based on analytical data to ensure maximum efficiency (Lossa, 2018). However, these regulations are generally not tailored according to the physical and emotional capabilities of the workers, leading to extensive mental health complications and one of the highest injury rates in the industry (Sainato, 2020). As a result, Amazon has updated and adjusted most of its scientific management principles according to contemporary business realities.

Consequently, the fundamental principle of McDonald’s is standardized labor. Over the years, the company has perfected product variety and manufacturing processes, allowing even unqualified workers to become efficient employees in short periods. However, this approach implies dehumanization with no place for human creativity and further divides people in capitalist societies. For instance, Berkowitz (2019) examines the issue of workplace violence in McDonald’s and reveals that low-skilled workers frequently become targets of exploitation in the United States. Consequently, there have been countless controversies regarding the violation of labor rights, which are essentially derived from standardized labor policies (Olivier, 2021). Ultimately, McDonald’s principles of scientific management lead to increased productivity at the cost of labor rights.

Efficiency in the Frameworks of Amazon and McDonald’s

Continuing on the topic, it is essential to analyze the advantages of the chosen approach by such global companies as Amazon and McDonald’s. Despite the vast criticism of their policies by social rights defenders, it is an undeniable fact that these corporations perfected the art of standardized labor, allowing them to dominate the respective industries. For instance, Amazon supports its physical retail enterprise with highly developed technological research to ensure maximum productivity (Solanki, 2019). This framework derives directly from scientific management, separating Amazon’s IT and physical retail departments with contrasting managerial styles and labor conditions (Solanki, 2019). Therefore, Amazon’s success in logistics and standardized labor is implied by thorough research.

Scientific Management Relevance in the 21st century

While the lack of humanitarian principles in scientific management makes it a less attractive option in contemporary business, it is still relevant in the 21st century. The primary advantage of the framework is the extensive generation of employment (Schein, 2017). Standardized labor, described in the examples of Amazon and McDonald’s, generally does not require higher education or specialized competencies. In other words, virtually anyone can undergo monthly training and become an efficient employee in the physical retail sector of Amazon or at McDonald’s. Amazon provided more employment opportunities than any other company, indirectly creating more than two million jobs (Amazon, 2022). Standardized labor and opportunities for low-skilled workers are the primary reason for such a global impact on employment, making scientific management principles relevant in the 21st century. Nevertheless, it is essential to note that scientific management can only be effective in specific industries that do not require high-skilled labor.

Socially Responsible Practices

Lastly, it is essential to critically evaluate the relationship between Scientific Management Theory, contemporary businesses, and socially responsible practices. As mentioned briefly before, the principles of the framework are frequently associated with dehumanization, productivity standards, and performance comparison, which frequently lead to mental health problems and injuries. This approach restricts human creativity and does not align with socially responsible practices. As a result, it deteriorated the public image of Amazon and McDonald’s, despite its business success and relevance. Medenica-Mitrović and Popović (2019) claim that socially responsible practices are essential to the organizational culture, explaining the disadvantages of scientific management in practice. However, in my opinion, scientific management can be beneficial for people, specifically due to its application in industries with low-skilled labor. Amazon and McDonald’s created millions of employment opportunities in various parts of the world, including developing countries that need more jobs. Therefore, while these companies might not meet the standards of socially responsible practices of the 21st century, they still provide opportunities for low-qualified people who desperately need money.


The analysis demonstrates that global corporations frequently utilize scientific management policies, such as standardized labor and direct supervision, to achieve maximum productivity. Frequently, these processes are associated with dehumanization, restriction of creativity, and violation of labor rights, implying that scientific management is not suitable for contemporary business. For instance, Palla and Billy (2018, p. 462) state that companies need to emphasize the “productivity of knowledge, not the productivity of manual labor,” making scientific management inapplicable in the 21st century. However, the current paper has demonstrated that ideas of scientific management might be beneficial both for corporations and employees by generating more jobs.

Concerning recommendations, scientific management policies might be more applicable to contemporary business with adjustments to its dehumanization policies. For instance, a motivation system based on additional rewards might be more effective than a framework based on the fear of getting fired – such as the one reported by Amazon (Schein, 2017). The standards of socially responsible practices are continually becoming more regulated, and companies need to follow them to prevent a public backlash (Schein, 2017). Therefore, while companies might implement scientific management concepts to maximize productivity, they need to provide sufficient labor conditions and employee treatment policies.

Reference List

Amazon. (2022) Our impact. Web.

Berkowitz, D. (2019) Behind the arches: How McDonald’s fails to protect workers from workplace violence. Web.

Hill, V. and Van Buren, H. (2018) ‘Taylor won: The triumph of scientific management and its meaning for business and society’, Corporate Social Responsibility, pp. 265–294.

Lossa, A. (2018) Work according to Amazon. Web.

Medenica-Mitrović, D. and Popović, M. (2019) ‘Correlation and importance of socially responsible business and organizational culture of companies’, South Eastern Journal of Communication, 1(1), pp. 1-16.

Olivier, I. (2021) McDonald’s spies on union activists – that’s how scared they are of worker’s rights.Web.

Palla, A. K., & Billy, I. (2018) ‘Scientific management: Its inapplicability to contemporary management challenges’, The Business & Management Review, 9(3), pp. 459-463.

Sainato, M. (2020) “I’m not a robot”: Amazon workers condemn unsafe, grueling conditions at warehouse. Web.

Schein, A. (2017) ‘Taylorism and Amazon: Scientific management at the world’s most successful retail company’, 10th Annual Conference of the EuroMed Academy of Business. Rome, Italy, 13-15 September, pp. 1554-1564.

Solanki, K. (2019) ‘To what extent does Amazon.com, Inc success be accredited to its organizational culture and ND Jeff Bezos’s leadership style?’ Archives of Business Research, 7(11), pp. 21–40.

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