Category Archives: Introduction to Operations Management

Operations Research

Operations Research

World War II with its complex problems of logistics control and weapons systems design provided the impetus for the development of the interdisciplinary mathematically  oriented field of operations research. Operations research (OR) brings together practitioners in such diverse fields as mathematics psychology and economics. Specialists in these disciplines customarily form a team to structure and analyze a problem in antiquarian  rems so that a mathematically optimal solution can be obtained Operations research or its approximate synonym management science now provides many of the sophisticated
quantitative tools that are used today in operations management as well as in other business disciplines.

Hawthorne Studies

Hawthorne Studies

Mathematical and statistical developments dominated the evolution of operations management from Taylor's time up to around the 1940. One exception was the Hawthorne studies conducted during the late 1920 and early 1930 by a research tears from Harvard Business School and supervised by the sociologist Elton Mayo. These experiments were designed to study the effects of certain environmental changes on the output of assembly workers at Western Electric's Hawthorne plant in Chicago Illinois. The unexpected findings reported in Management and the Worker by F. J. Brotherliness and W. J. Dickson? intrigued sociologists and students of traditional scientific management alike. To the surprise of the researchers changing the level of illumination for example had much less effect on the output than the way in which the changes were introduced to the workers. That is. reductions in illumination in some instances led to increased output because workers felt an obligation to their group to keep output high. Discoveries such as these had tremendous implications for work design and worker motivation and ultimately led to the establishment of personnel management and the human resources departments in most organizations.

Scientific Management

Scientific Management

This all changed with the introduction of scientific management at the beginning of the twentieth century. Although we could claim that operations management has existed since the dawn of civilization scientific management was probably the first historical landmark in the field in that it represented for the first time a systematic approach to manufacturing. This concept was developed by Frederick W. Taylor. an imaginative engineer and insightful observer of organizational activities. The essence of Taylor's philosophy was that scientific laws govern how much a worker can produce per day and that it is the function of management to discover and use these laws in its production systems and that it is the function of the worker to carry out management's wishes without question  Taylor's philosophy was not greet approval by  his contemporaries. On the contrary some unions resented or feared scientific management-and with some justification. In too many instances managers of  the day were quick to embrace the mechanisms of Taylor's philosophy-time study incentive plans and  forth-but ignored their responsibility to organize and standardize the we done For many firms workers often were viewed as jut another interchangeable asset like plant and equipment. Taylor's ideas were widely accepted in contemporary Japan and a Japanese translations of  Taylor's book Principles of Scientific Management which Wallenstein Japan as The Secret of Saving Lost Motion sold more than two million copies  To this day there i a tron z legacy of Taylorism in Japanese  approaches to many  management.

Notable co-workers of Taylor were Frank and Lillian Gilbert motion study industrial psychology and Henry  Gantlet  scheduling  wage payment plans  However it is probably not well known that Taylor a devout Quaker requested cussing lessons from an earthy foreman to help him communicate with workers that Frank Gilbert defeated younger champion bricklayers in bricklaying contests by using his own principles of motion economy or that Gantlet won a presidential citation for his application of the Gantlet chart to shipbuilding during World War.

Historical Development of OM

Historical Development of OM

Prior to 1900

Up through the end of the eighteenth century agriculture was the predominant industry in every country. Manufacturing as we  now it today did not exist. Items were usually custom made by skilled artisans who spent many years in apprenticeship learning every facet of how to make a good or provide a service. No two products were ever these. For many products trades or guilds were established to provide a common basis of knowledge for these apprenticeship programs. This cottage industry approach to manufacturing began to change at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Watt invented the steam engine in England in 1765 which provided a source of power for manufacturing. In 1801 Eli Whitney introduced the concept of standardized parts to President Thomas Jefferson with a demonstration in which he selected parts at random to assemble and then fire a musket Prior to this every musket was hand crafted with customized parts  The middle of the nineteenth century saw the onrush of the Industrial Revolution with its large manufacturing facilities that were powered by either steam or water. However even with the advent of these large facilities manufacturing to a large degree still remained an art rather than a science.

Job Opportunities in Operations Management: Relating OM to Other Business Functions

Job Opportunities in Operations Management: Relating OM to Other Business Functions

Exhibit  lists some of the line and staff jobs that usually fall within the operations function. There are more staff specializations in manufacturing than in services because of the focus on materials management and control. Operations Management is a required course in many business schools. not only because it deals with the basic question of how goods and services are created but also because many of the concepts developed in OM have direct applications in every other functional area with in an organization. As seen in Exhibit processes exist within every function. These processes can be continuously improved by applying OM tools and

Job Opportunities in Operations Management: Relating OM to Other Business Functions

Job Opportunities in Operations Management: Relating OM
to Other Business Functions

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techniques. In addition, as al 0 seen in Exhibit  each of these functional areas interacts with the OM function. Therefore  in  rider to do their jobs correctly it is important for individuals working in these areas to understand the fundamental concept of operation management.