Time and Motion Studies

Steven Harper and Fariss-Terry Mousa

in Management

ISBN: 9780199846740
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:
Time and Motion Studies


Time and motion study (also referred to as motion and time study, the terms are used interchangeably) is the scientific study of the conservation of human resources in the search for the most efficient method of doing a task. A fascination with the word “efficiency” began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when it was considered one of the most important concepts. Time study began in the 1880s as a means of wage-rate setting by Frederick W. Taylor, who is regarded as the “father of scientific management.” It consists of a wide variety of procedures for determining the amount of time required, under certain standard conditions of measurement, for tasks involving some human activity. Motion study was developed by Frank B. Gilbreth and Lillian M. Gilbreth and consists of a wide variety of procedures for the description, systematic analysis, and means of improving work methods. It is difficult to separate these two aspects completely. Therefore, the combined term usually refers to all three phases of the activity: method determination, time appraisal, and development of material for the application of these data. Frank and Lillian also broadened scientific management by including the human element, therefore using psychology to gain the cooperation of employees. Motion and time analysis could be used to help find a preferential way of doing the work and could assist in effectively managing or controlling the activity. This approach has been successfully applied to factories, hospitals, department stores, housework, banks, cafeteria work, libraries, music, and to many other human activities. For instance, factories have used it to reduce wasted time and improve the time to compete a task, while banks use it to help team members reach their sales goals. However, the goal of a time and motion study is not simply efficiency. These studies are done to create a baseline that can be used in the future when evaluating procedural, equipment, or personnel changes. The goal can be to understand the skills required to enable individuals to perform the work and, thus, to provide the correct training. Another may be to reduce the discomfort experienced, especially in the case of surgical procedures—a goal such as this, namely, to create less tissue damage, may run counter to efficiency. In the case of athletes, the goal may be faster speed or more endurance, which may be achieved not necessarily by the most efficient way.

Article.  13668 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management

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