Pakistani Firms and Taylorism
Nadeem Yousaf

Once this writer asked a few ladies as to why they are buying a cream produced in India when the same brand is also produced by a company in Pakistan, they replied that quality is far better of Indian version of the brand than Pakistani. It is a common complaint about Pakistani firms that they do not produce quality goods or services. Although a few large and multinational firms are making handsome profits, the reasons are other than quality of products or services. Firstly, they are operating in a country where decent competitive environment is unavailable. Only a few firms are delivering all famous consumer products in the market; whether they are bath soaps, washing detergent, cigarettes, toothpastes or whatever. A consumer can change a brand but not the purveyor. Secondly, firms are excessively spending money on promotional activities. Commercials and advertisements are usurping major capital of the firms. The writer has not seen so many advertisements by Indian firms on Indian TV channels as by Pakistani firms on Pakistani channels (frankly speaking, I have never seen so many commercials in western countries TV channels and print media as I did here). Thirdly, they are sweeping consumers’ pockets by charging exorbitantly due to lack of pragmatic and comprehensive government policy that controls market behaviour of firms. The point is that they are not making money due to skilful management policies but some other factors including manipulation of employees. Pakistan business community has indeed learnt a lot in the last 2 decades to copying western ideas of promotional activities and improving décor of offices; however they have yet to appreciate that unsatisfied human resource cannot produce quality goods or increase production to a optimum level.

Businesses and societies grow and stabilize when human extrinsic and intrinsic needs are properly looked after. Extrinsic needs include monetary benefits, job security, working physical conditions and so on. Herzberg argues that fulfilment of these needs may not increase satisfaction after reaching a certain level but if these needs are not met in the organization then dissatisfaction will increase. Industrial revolution of 1900 century emerged when European and American business community learnt this basic fact. Fredric Taylor was a major proponent of providing adequate extrinsic rewards to workers to get optimum quality production. He gave golden principle of management, which not only are still part of the management studies but also applied in industries of the developed world. These principles are standardization of procedures, appropriate planning, effective interior communication, appropriate division of work, appropriate in-house training, friendly and conducive environment to learn, selection on merit and appropriate wages and other monetary incentives according to the job.

Application of management principles has direct affect on society and growth of economic activity. Pakistani business is not growing and the state economy is not grooming, neither stabilizing, because industries have yet to cross the stage of Taylorism, which is a first phase for any growing business and economy. Following principles of other approaches such as humanistic are next stages of management and organization development. Pakistani firms still prefer to follow traditional strategy of hiring people on the salaries as low as possible and discard basic law of management “a fair day's work for a fair day's pay’. They grossly ignore the fact that low paid dishevelled employees neither loyal to the organization nor strive for increase in production. Organizations cannot demand or expect moral involvement from employees without offering adequate extrinsic rewards. In Pakistan, employees working on even responsible positions get shameful salaries. Recently, a sub-editor of a leading Urdu newspaper told the writer that he drew skimpy salary (around Rs.7000) per month. Is it not more than a joke to expect a quality work against such a meagre amount which is not even enough to meet expenses of a decent kitchen of two persons? Print media organizations are not the only organizations that pay low remuneration against heavy load of work, the same tendency is stretched to other business organizations, whether they are in the field of education, manufacturing, construction or IT. For instance, many academic institutions, which are minting money, offer meagre salaries to their teaching staff. It is exceptionally marked that only owner(s) or a few privileged high cadre employees enjoy a luxurious physical working conditions whereas the rest work in miserable conditions. Profit orientation of Pakistani businessmen is so high that they could go to any extent to accumulate wealth. For example, it is quite common in academic institutions to hire part-time teaching staff from government and semi-government departments. Ironically, an educator has proudly told that he lectures on various subjects from Management oriented subjects to Pakistan Studies in different so-called private universities in Karachi. This practice has albeit two negative effects: (1) hiring part-timers does not decrease rate of employment; (2) it is impossible for part-timers to justify with the work while working in multiple organizations. Another attribute of Pakistani firms’ hiring policy is to employ “jack of all and master of none” to extract maximum and multiple work from a single person. Whether or not Pakistani management has applied other theories of management but they are very open in accepting the concept of job enlargement because it helps to accumulate profits. Against the principle of scientific management, neither selection is made on merits nor are standardized procedures practiced that serves interests of employees. It appears that Pakistani firms search for employees who work for them without being well-being.

The current conditions of the country show that frustration not only is owing to oscillating national policies but also due to selfish attitude of business community. It seems that they are unconcerned about the growing hardships of employees. Unfortunately, business community in general and large national and multinational firms in particular have been miserably failed to fulfill their commitment to the society in relation to looking after employees’ extrinsic interests. In the last five decades, eemployees-manipulation has spread like a plague in the country because government have been only interested to increase State Bank’s reserves or/and statistical growth in economy; and least concerned whether or not benefits of growth transfers to common people. In Pakistan, the concept of minimum wage consummate with qualification and the job is hardly followed. Settlement of salaries or wage rate per hour is completely left on market dynamics without realizing that they never work in favour of human capital where population is large and unemployment is high. In addition, government departments are also unconcerned whether or not a firm extracting over work from the employees. Keep it in mind, overload of work not only is stressful for employees but also increase rate of unemployment. By and Large, government has given leeway to multinationals and large national from any scrutiny because they support incumbent government.

Both business community and the government do not appreciate that purchasing power of people will not increase without increasing salaries and other monetary benefits of employees. It is out of comprehension how economic activity will grow when people do not have enough money to buy commodities. If corrective measures are not taken soon in improving extrinsic reward system in Pakistan, apprehensions are that frustration and anxiety will increase further. Under the current rate of high unemployment, it is imperative for government to give incentives to firms against increasing rate of employment. It should discourage internships and apprenticeships without remuneration. The labour ministry must strictly implement realistic minimum wage policy, especially, in large national and multinational companies. Business community must revamp its old style of managing people. Being a responsible community of the society, it should show more compassion and understanding to share profits with organizational human capital and fulfil their social commitment by becoming a partner in reducing people’s frustration. They must leave feudal approach, forthwith, for the sake of country development and recognize the importance of human capital, which is a real aid in generating financial capital for organizations. ©

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