Elgar Introduction to Theories of Human Resources and Employment Relations
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Elgar Introduction to Theories of Human Resources and Employment Relations

Edited by Keith Townsend, Kenneth Cafferkey, Aoife M. McDermott and Tony Dundon

This Elgar Introduction provides an overview of some of the key theories that inform human resource management and employment relations as a field of study.
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Chapter 4: Applying Scientific Management to modern employment relations and HRM

Niall Cullinane and Jean Cushen


This chapter reviews Scientific Management. It outlines Scientific Management’s origins and principles, conceptualizing it as a response to the problem of labour power conversion. The chapter also considers the limitations to Scientific Management diffusion in the workplace; identifying the politics of production, the complexity and variety of job tasks and alternative employer priorities as significant countervailing forces. Finally, the chapter concludes by considering the relevance of Scientific Management for the future. It is proposed that Scientific Management will likely persist in some sectors and that opportunities for its expansion may be promised by developments in digital technology and algorithmic learning.

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