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Taylorism, named after the American engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor, is a method of industrial management designed to increase efficiency and productivity. For this purpose, workflows and work processes are examined and optimized precisely and systematically in order to reduce costs and increase quality. In our business dictionary, Taylorism is explained in more detail and considered in its various aspects. Here you will find everything you need to know about Taylorism!

Taylorism: Organization of work processes through Taylorism

Taylorism is a method that has revolutionized industrial production. It deals with the analysis and synthesis of work techniques, ensuring that workers are more efficient and productive. A key aspect of Taylorism is the division of work into small, simple tasks that can be performed by a single worker. Taylorism was a revolutionary technique for many companies to increase productivity. By introducing techniques such as "standardized work" and "time study," work processes could be made more efficient. This meant that work was broken down into individual sub-steps and these were then completed in a set time, significantly increasing productivity. This reduces work to a minimum and increases productivity. There is also a lot of emphasis on doing work to set standards and achieving the highest possible efficiency. Taylorism also emphasizes adherence to a specific sequence in the performance of work in order to achieve the best possible result. The introduction of Taylorism into industrial operations has made work more efficient, increased productivity, and reduced costs.

How does Taylorism affect the work environment today?

Taylorism has led above all to automation and rationalization of work processes in companies. This has led to a reduction in human labor, but also to better utilization of available resources. However, it has also led to a standardization of work. Many companies today have similar work processes and methods that have been formed through the influence of Taylorism. This can lead to a feeling of monotony, which is a problem for many employees. Taylorism also puts a lot of control on workers by companies, which limits employees' ability to find creative ways to get their work done. However, it is also important for companies to use Taylorism principles to make their operations more efficient and productive.

The History of Taylorism

Taylorism is a management theory developed at the beginning of the 20th century by the American engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor. Taylor worked in various industrial companies and observed that there was a lack of systematic methods for organizing work. Work was often organized according to the principle of "trial and error." Taylor strove to make work processes more efficient and productive by analyzing and optimizing them scientifically. His theories and methods were first published in his book "The Principles of Scientific Management" in 1911. He was strongly influenced by the emerging industrial revolution and the possibilities of mass production.

Core Principles

The core idea of Taylorism is to break down complex work processes into simple, repeatable individual tasks. These individual tasks are then timed to find the most efficient way to perform them. Employees are trained specifically for these individual tasks, which is intended to achieve specialization and increased efficiency.

Criticism and Further Development

Although Taylorism led to significant increases in productivity, there were also criticisms. The main criticisms include the reduction of the human worker to a kind of "machine" and the separation of thought and action, which can lead to the disenfranchisement of workers. Despite these criticisms, Taylorism became widespread worldwide and influenced later management theories, including Fordism and lean management.

Heritage and Actuality

To this day, the basic principles of Taylorism are applied in many industries and service sectors, but often in modified form and combined with other management approaches. Digitalization and automation have challenged many of the original Taylorism principles, but its influence on modern work organization remains undeniable.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Taylorism

Taylorism has both advantages and disadvantages, which can vary depending on your perspective and use case. Here are some of the most important points:


  1. Human factors: Taylorism tends to neglect the psychological and social aspects of work. This can lead to a deterioration of the working climate.
  2. Monotony: Breaking down work into simple, repetitive tasks can lead to monotony and thus employee dissatisfaction. This monotony can also have a negative impact on productivity in the long term.
  3. Disenfranchisement of workers: The strict separation of thinking and acting can limit the creativity and initiative of workers. Employees often feel less valued as a result.
  4. Short-sightedness: The focus on efficiency can lead to long-term goals and sustainable developments being neglected. There is a risk that quality and innovation will suffer.
  5. Vulnerability to errors: Because the work is highly specialized, an error in a small task can affect the entire process. This specialization increases the risk of a chain reaction when errors occur.

Advantages and disadvantages of Taylorism compact

Category Advantage or Disadvantage Description
Efficiency Advantage Work processes optimized through scientific analysis lead to higher efficiency.
Cost Advantage Productivity increase reduces manufacturing costs.
Training Advantage Simple training by decomposition of complex tasks.
Specialization Advantage Allows workers to focus on specific tasks.
Control Advantage Facilitates monitoring and control of work.
Human Factors Disadvantage Neglect of the psychological and social aspects of work.
Monotony Disadvantage Work becomes repetitive and can become monotonous.
Disenfranchisement Disadvantage Employees have little room for creativity and initiative.
Short-sightedness Disadvantage Focus on short-term efficiency can jeopardize long-term goals.
Error-proneness Disadvantage Errors in a small task can affect the entire process.

Criticism of Taylorism

Taylorism is an approach from business administration that is known primarily for its efficiency. However, it is also criticized time and again. One main problem is that Taylorism is a very one-sided approach and does not address employee motivation. In addition, the strict separation of planning and execution creates a strong hierarchy between department managers and workers, which can lead to a threat to employee creativity and autonomy. Taylorism is also criticized in many cases as being less adaptable, as it aims to adhere to strict rules and norms and is thus difficult to adapt to new circumstances.

Taylorism has many different aspects that should be known in order to understand it in its entirety. It allows people to focus on single tasks rather than working with many tasks at once, and can help increase productivity. It is a strategy that can contribute to a more efficient way of working. With a thorough analysis of workflow, it is possible to find the best ways to streamline the process while reducing costs. This includes implementing a clear system of division of labor, where each employee performs a specific task. This way, you can ensure that each employee is doing their best and nothing is missed. Taylorism has helped many companies work more efficiently and productively. It is a proven model that is still imitated today to work more efficiently and profitably.

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