The Practice of Scientific Management in the Amazon Corporation

Topics: Economics

Scientific management, as explained by Lillian Gilbreth in the early 1900s, aims to yield an abundance of high-quality product while benefitting both the employee and employer. Its superiority over traditional management lies in its betterment of working conditions and the employee’s long-term wellbeing.

Gilbreth mentions human resources, implementation of a “play element” and amusements as some of the amenities that should be available to employees under scientific management, all of which would aid the employee in developing self-knowledge, a broader outlook, and a sense of personal purpose.

Gilbreth’s scientific management involves a synthesis of mind and body and strives for industrial peace. For Gilbreth, problems in a work setting arise in the absence of scientific management.

When the management’s operability—or lack thereof—is teetering upon a rickety hierarchy of power, the worker at the base of the system must function at the mercy of its flaws as his superiors blame any of the system’s faults on him and his labor.

The worker becomes not only unconfident in himself, but also in the management that oversees him. In a present day factory setting, this faulty hierarchy exists as some sort of distorted version of scientific management, as Simon Head explains in “Worse than Walmart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers.” While Gilbreth’s approach to employee management is considerably humanistic, Head describes Amazon’s process as quite the opposite, driven by the expectation of their human employees to perform each task with robotic precision.

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The company even punishes employees for what it calls “time theft”, an offense that is characterized by what the management deems inefficient use of time. The most disturbing part of this term is that the so-called “theft” doesn’t originate from malevolence on the employee’s part, but from genuine exhaustion as he or she struggles to meet the company’s excessively high expectations.

Head mentions a particularly oppressive Amazon warehouse in Allentown, Pennsylvania, that neglected rising temperatures in the warehouse while demanding consistency of labor, resulting in countless employees passing out and even requiring hospitalization. I talked to my cousin, who worked at the same warehouse; though he didn’t experience the heat scandal, he told me about the company’s strict demerit system. If any employee is one minute late to work, they gain half a point towards the potential six that could cost them their job. Punctuality is rewarded with time off.

Gilbreth says that, “Scientific Management enables the worker not only to lead a fuller life in his work but also outside his work”(Gilbreth, 330). I feel that an individual sentiment surrounding work is personal and there are cases where an employer attempts to improve or diminish-morale are futile, but there’s something to be said for a system that implements practices that have a specific aim of boosting employee well-being.

Amazon’s most significant rituals, like tracking time-theft with the intent of eliminating employees and requiring employees to undergo extensive security checks before entering the work place, foster distrust among workers, hindering their development as growing, changing humans. These practices exemplify a highly anti-progressive form of mechanization.

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The Practice of Scientific Management in the Amazon Corporation. (2023, Mar 17). Retrieved from

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