|Work and Wealth|
CHAPTER XIV: SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT
§1. No humanist treatment of modern industry can ignore the
recent advances of scientific methods into the regulation both of standards of
production and standards of consumption. In both arts alike the crude empiricism
of the past is giving place to a more ordered, conscious rationalism. As is only
natural, the advance of science is more rapid in the productive arts.
In recent years many scattered attempts have been made to apply physiology and psychology to economic processes. Business men by scientific observation and experiment have brought criticism to bear upon the traditional and empirical modes of organising and conducting businesses. The more or less hand-to-mouth methods which were possible in small businesses where the manager was owner, and could keep a close personal supervision of his employees and all their work, were found increasingly unsuitable to modern types of large capitalist business. It was necessary to devise regular methods for correlating the work of the different departments, and for enabling a single central purpose to operate by complex delegation through several grades of subordinate officials with automatic checks and registers. More accurate methods of book-keeping, especially of cost-taking, were devised; experiments were made in bonuses, profit-sharing, fines, pace-making and various modifications of the wage-systems applied to evoke more energy, skill, or care from the workers and officials; hours of labour and shift-systems were subjected to measured tests. Still more recently the detailed technology of manual and mental labour has been made material of physiological and psychological investigation. Scientific Management has become a conscious art. Business colleges in America and germany give courses of instruction in this art, and a new profession has arisen of expert advisers who are called in as specialists to diagnose the deficiencies or wastes of industrial or financial power in particular businesses and to prescribe remedies.
Economic progress, regarded from the standpoint of the business man, consists in getting a given quantity of saleable goods turned out at a lower cost of production. That cost of production consists of the salaries and wages paid to various grades of employees for mental and manual labour, cost of materials and power, standing expenses for maintenance of plant and premises, including replacement and insurance, and interest upon capital. Anything that reduces any one of these costs, without a corresponding increase of another, is profitable from the standpoint of the individual employer, or of all employers in the trade, if it be generally adopted, or of the consuming public, if it wholly or partly goes to them in lower selling prices. Where the reduction of costs simply takes the shape of reduced wages for the same work, however, it causes no net increase of concrete wealth, but merely distributes the same amount (or less by reason of reduced efficiency of labour) in a different manner. Such a reduction cannot then be regarded as economic progress, from the national standpoint.
But every other reduction of cost carries with it prima facie evidence of a net increase of concrete wealth. Inventions of machinery, improved chemical or other treatment of materials, better business organisation and subdivision of labour, improved skill and energy in employees, better book-keeping, credit, marketing arrangements, -- all such technical improvements promote the increase of concrete wealth. In all these ways many great advances have been made in various industries. But, alike in invention and in organisation, too much has been left to chance, or to the pressure of some emergency, too little is the result of ordered thought. Business has been conducted too much in the spirit of an art, too little in that of applied science. The modern tendency is to introduce the exacter methods of science. The modern large manufacturing or mining enterprise employs expert engineers and chemists, not only to test and control the operation of existing processes, but to invent new and cheaper ways of carrying out a process, to discover new products and new uses for by-products. It employs expert accountants to overhaul its book-keeping and finance and to suggest improvements. Initiative and economy are to be studied, evoked and applied along every path.
§2. But until lately the detailed organisation of labour and its utilisation for particular technical processes had received little attention in the great routine industries. Even such technical instruction as has been given to beginners in such trades as building, engineering, weaving, shoemaking, etc., has usually taken for granted the existing tools, the accepted methods of using them and the material to which they are applied. To make each sort of job the subject-matter of a close analysis and of elaborate experiment, so as to ascertain how it could be done most quickly and accurately and with the least expenditure of needless energy, comes as a novel contribution of business enterprise. To get the right man to use the right tools in the right way is a fair account of the object of Scientific Management. At present a man enters a particular trade partly by uninstructed choice, partly by chance, seldom because he is known by himself and his employer to have a natural or acquired aptitude for it. He handles the tools that are traditional and are in general use, copying the ways in which others use them, receiving chance tips or suggestions from a comrade or a foreman, and learning from personal experience how to do the particular work in a way which appears to be least troublesome, dangerous, or exhausting. Both mode of work and pace are those of prevailing usage, more or less affected by machinery or other technical conditions.
The scientific manager discovers enormous wastes in this way of working. Part of the waste he finds due to improper tools and improper modes of working, arising from mere ignorance; part he attributes to systematic or habitual slacking, more or less conscious and intentional on the part of the workers. The natural disposition of the worker to "take it easy" is supplemented by a belief that by working too hard he deprives some other worker of a job. Scientific Management, therefore, sets itself to work out by experiment the exact tool or machine appropriate to each action, the most economical and effective way by which a worker can work the tool or machine, and the best method of selecting workers for each job and of stimulating them to perform each action with the greatest accuracy and celerity. By means of strictly quantitative tests it works out standard tools, standard methods of work and standard tests for the selection, organisation, stimulation, and supervision of the workman.
In his exposition of this economy1 Mr. Taylor takes as his simplest illustration of choice of tools the 'art' of shovelling. Left to himself, or working with a gang, the shoveller will use a shovel whose weight, size, and shape have never been considered in relation to the particular material it has to move or the sort of man who has to use it. 'By first selecting two or three first-class shovellers, and paying them extra wages for doing trustworthy work, and then gradually varying the shovel load and having all the conditions accompanying the work carefully observed for several weeks by men who were accustomed to experimenting, it was found that a first-class man would do the biggest day's work with a shovel load of about 21 pounds.'2 As a result of this discovery, instead of allowing each shoveller to choose his own shovel, the company provided eight or ten different kinds of shovels accommodated to the weight of different materials and to other special conditions. Again, thousands of stop-watch observations were made to discover how quickly a labourer, provided with his proper shovel, could push the shovel into the materials and draw it out properly loaded. A similar study was made of 'the time required to swing the shovel backward and then throw the load for a given horizontal distance, accompanied by a given height.' With the knowledge thus obtained it was possible for the man directing shovellers, first to teach them the exact method of using their strength to the best advantage, and then to assign the daily task by which they could earn the bonus paid for the successful performance of this task. For, though the skilled director can prescribe the right tool and the right method, he cannot get the required result without the willing cooperation of the individual worker. For this purpose a bonus is applied, the size of which is itself a subject of scientific experiment. The relation of this bonus to the ordinary day or piece wage will vary with the various types of work and workers. In the Bethlehem Steel Works it was found that the best effect in stimulating energy was got by a bonus of about 60 per cent, beyond the wages usually paid. 'This increase in wages tends to make them not only thrifty but better men in every way; they live rather better, begin to save money, become more sober, and work more steadily. When, on the other hand, they receive much more than a 60 per cent increase of wages, many of them will work irregularly and tend to become more or less shiftless, extravagant, and dissipated. Our experiments showed, in other words, that it does not do for most men to get rich too fast.'3
Considering that it was claimed that the result of this new plan of work was to raise the average daily output per man from 16 to 59 tons, and to secure an annual saving in the labour-bill amounting to between $75,000 and $80,000, it would have been interesting to follow the effects of a rapid advance of wealth upon the dividend-receivers who gained so disproportionate a share of the advantages of the new economy.
§3. So far as the selection and adaptation of tools to the special conditions of the work are concerned, there exists no opposition between the business and the human economy. If a shoveller can shovel more material without greater exertion by using a particular shovel, the system which ensures his using this shovel is beneficial to everybody, assuming that he gets some share of the value of the increased output. When we turn from a simple tool to more elaborate machinery, it becomes evident that quantitative testing is capable of achieving enormous technical economies. Mr. Taylor describes the gains in the output of metal-cutting machines made by means of such economies. 'Its pulling power at the various speeds, its feeding capacity, and its proper speeds were determined by means of the slide-rules, and changes were then made in the countershaft and driving pulleys so as to run it to its proper speed. Tools, made of highspeed steel and of the proper shapes, were properly dressed, treated and ground. A large special slide-rule was then made, by means of which the exact speeds and feeds were indicated at which each kind of work could be done in the shortest possible time in this particular lathe. After preparing in this way so that the workman should work according to the new method, one after another, pieces of work were finished in the lathe, corresponding to the work which had been done in our preliminary trials, and the gain in time made through running the machine according to scientific principles ranged from two and one-half times the speed in the slowest instance to nine times the speed in the highest.'4
This illustration, however, makes it evident that when we pass from technical improvements of tools to improved methods of working, we open possibilities of opposition between the business and the human interest. An improvement in the shape or contour of the 'cutting edge' for a particular material is an unqualified gain. So is a discovery as to the ways in which hardness or softness of metals affects the cutting rate. But when it is a question of evoking from the workman a higher pace of movement to meet the requirements of the speeded-up machine, no such consistency of interests can be assumed. The fact that by selection, instruction, and minute supervision, workmen can be got to work successfully at the higher speed, and regard themselves as sufficiently compensated by a bonus of 35 per cent, does not settle the question of human values. So far as the selective process simply chooses the men most easily capable of working at a higher speed and of eliminating those who could not easily or possibly adapt themselves to it, no net increase of human cost is involved. But so far as the bonus and the 'athletic' spirit which it is used to evoke,5 induce workmen to give out an amount of muscular or nervous energy injurious to them in the long run, the human cost may greatly outweigh both the social value of the increased output and the utility to them of higher wages. How crucial is this question of speeding-up the human labour is well illustrated by the experiments in bricklaying, by means of which the bricklayers engaged on straight work, were raised from an average of 120 bricks per man per hour to 350. By alterations of apparatus Mr. Gilbreth dispenses with certain movements which bricklayers formerly considered necessary, while saving time in the actual process of laying by using both hands at the same time, bricks being picked up with the left hand at the same instant that a trowel of mortar is seized with the right.
'It is highly likely that many times during all of these years individual bricklayers have recognised the possibility of eliminating each of these unnecessary motions. But even if, in the past, he did invent each one of Mr. Gilbreth's improvements, no bricklayer could alone increase his speed through their adoption, because it will be remembered that in all cases several bricklayers work together in a row and that the walls all around a building must grow at the same rate of speed. No one bricklayer, then, can work much faster than the one next to him. Nor has any workman the authority to make other men cooperate with him to do faster work. It is only through enforced standardisation of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and of enforcing this cooperation rests with the management alone. The management must supply continually one or more teachers to show each new man the new and simpler motions, and the slower men must be constantly watched and helped until they have risen to their proper speed. All of those who, after teaching, either will not or cannot work in accordance with the new methods and at the higher speed, must be discharged by the management. The management must also recognise the broad fact that workmen will not submit to this more rigid standardisation and will not work extra hard, unless they receive extra pay for doing it.'6
This makes it clear that, though part of the larger output, or
increased speed, is got by improved arrangements or methods of work that need
not tax the workers, powers, part of it does involve their working "extra hard."
Not only a better direction but a larger amount of energy is required of them,
with an increase of wear and tear and of fatigue. It is an unsettled point of
great importance, how much of the enlarged output can be imputed to the former,
how much to the latter. Even more important is the allusion in the passage just
quoted to 'the rigid standardisation' to which workmen will not submit, unless
they are well paid to do so. For this rigid standardisation of the work involves
a corresponding mechanisation of the workmen. Men who formerly exercised a
certain amount of personal choice in the details of their work, as regards
action and time, must abandon this freedom and follow exactly the movements
prescribed to them by the taskmaster with a chart and a stop-watch. He will
prescribe the particular task for each, the tool he shall use, the way he shall
use it, the intervals of work and rest, and will take close note of every
failure to conform. The liberty, initiative, judgment, and responsibility of the
individual workman are reduced to a minimum.
This is admitted by the advocates of Scientific Management, though in a qualified manner. One of the elements of success is said to be: 'An almost equal division of the work and responsibility between the workman and the management. All day long the management work almost side by side with the men, helping, encouraging and smoothing the way for them, while in the past they stood on one side, gave the men but little help, and threw on to them the entire responsibility as to methods, implements, speed, and harmonious cooperation.'7 But in the broader discussion of the difference between the ordinary business method and Scientific Management, in relation to the numerous little problems that arise in every kind of work, we are told that, 'the underlying philosophy of this (ordinary) management necessarily leaves the solution of all these problems in the hands of each individual workman, while the philosophy of Scientific Management places their solution in the hands of the management.'8 Elsewhere9 it is stated that Scientific Management 'involves the establishment of many rules, laws, and formulae which replace the judgment of the individual workman.'
§4. Now in endeavouring to apply to this policy of Scientific Management a standard of human welfare, we are confronted by three questions: --
(1) What is the effect of this policy upon the human costs of labour?
(2) How far will any increase of human costs of labour be offset by the greater human utility of the higher wages they receive?
(3) How far is any balance of human costs, which is imposed on special classes of producers, compensated by the increased wealth at the disposal of society at large?
There is some tendency among the advocates of Scientific Management to burke a full discussion of these issues by asserting that their policy is only a fuller and more rational application of that principle of division of labour which is by general consent the economic foundation of modern civilised society. If some sacrifice of individual freedom in industrial work is involved, it is assumed to be more than compensated by gains to society in which every individual, as a member of society, has his proper share.
But we cannot consent thus to rush the issue. For it may turn out that the new method, though but a stricter and finer application of the old, carries this economy so far that the increased human costs imposed upon the producer grow faster than the human gains which the increased productivity confers either upon him or upon society at large. In other words, the human indictment brought by the mid-Victorian humanists against the factory system of their day and rejected on a general survey of the economic situation, might be validated by the increased standardisation and specialisation of labour under scientific management. For though the division of labour under modern capitalism in all its branches has narrowed the range of productive activity for the great bulk of workers, a survey of those activities shows that within their narrowing range there may and does survive a certain scope for skill, judgment, and initiative, a certain limited amount of liberty in detailed modes of workmanship. Moreover, the conditions of most organised work form a certain education in discipline and responsibility. It is only a small proportion of the workers who are converted into mere servants of the machine. Though large classes are engaged in monotonous routine, the paces and the detailed movements are not rigidly enforced upon them. Different workmen will be doing the same work in a slightly different way.
Now the standardisation under the new method is expressly designed so as to extirpate these little personal equations of liberty and to reduce the labour of the ordinary employee to an automatic perfection of routine. It is, indeed, contended by Mr. Taylor that the knowledge of each man that he is working at his highest personal efficiency will be a satisfaction to him, that the attention he must pay to the detailed orders of the taskmaster will evoke intelligence and responsibility, and that his initiative in the way of suggesting improvements, which has hitherto been prized as an element of liberty and a source of industrial progress, can be conserved under scientific management. But a careful examination of the illustrations of the method compels our rejection of these claims. The knowledge of a routine worker that he is speeded up to his highest pitch by a method whose efficiency is prescribed by others, does not yield a sense of personal efficiency. Mere meticulous obedience is not a proper training in the discipline of a 'person', and a workman operating under these conditions will not have the practical liberty for those little experiments in trial and error on his own account which makes his suggestions of improvement fruitful.
Mr. Taylor, however, carries his defence so far as to deny all narrowing effects of subdivision of labour on the worker. Admitting that the workmen frequently say when they first come under the system, 'Why, I am not allowed to think or move without someone interfering or doing it for me,' he seems to think the following answer satisfactory: --
'The same criticism and objection, however, can be raised against any other modern subdivision of labour. It does not follow, for example, that the modern surgeon is any more narrow or wooden a man than the early settler in this country. The frontiersman, however, had to be not only a surgeon, but also an architect, house-builder, lumber-man, farmer, soldier, and doctor, and he had to settle his lawsuits with a gun. You would hardly say that the life of the modern surgeon is any more narrowing or that he is more of a wooden man than the frontiersman. The many problems to be met and solved by the surgeon are just as intricate and difficult and as developing and broadening in their way as were those of the frontiersman.'10
Now as to this we can only reply, first that it is untrue that
the surgeon's life on its productive side (the issue under discussion) is as
broad and as varied as that of the frontiersman. In the second place, even if we
accepted the view that a narrow field of activity admitted of as much variety
and interest as a wider field, provided liberty of action were equal in the two,
that view is quite inapplicable to the case at issue. For there all liberty of
action in the subdivided field of labour is excluded.
§5. So far, then, as initiative, interest, variation, experiment, and personal responsibility are factors of human value, qualifying the human costs of labour, it seems evident that Scientific Management involves a loss or injury to the workers. Are there, however, any personal considerations, apart from wages, that may be taken as an offset? Suppose that workers can be found of a dully docile character with a large supply of brute muscular energy, will any harm be done them by utilising them to carry pig-iron or to shovel earth under "scientific" supervision? Mr. Taylor has an interesting passage bearing on this question: 'Now one of the very first requirements for a man who is fit to handle pig-iron as a regular occupation is that he shall be so stupid and so phlegmatic that he more nearly resembles in his mental make-up the ox than any other type.'11 These ox-like men, it may be held, do not really suffer any injury, undergo any human cost, by having no opportunity furnished them for exercising faculties and activities of mind which they do not possess and are unlikely to acquire. If then, in every grade of workers, there are to be found enough men who appear destined by nature for a rigidly mechanical task conducted under servile conditions, it may be thoroughly sound social economy to put them to perform all labour of such kind as is required for the supply of human needs.
This is a problem of applied psychology, or of psycho-physiology. Professor Münsterberg, in a recent volume,12 makes a contribution towards its solution, and towards a finer art of Scientific Management than that which has been evolved by business men. For since all industry primarily involves the voluntary ordered application of human faculties to manual and mental actions, the psychologist must be in a position to give important advice in all economic operations. For he alone is qualified by scientific tests to discover and estimate the various mental capacities which count for success in industry, to ascertain how they cooperate and conflict, and how they may be best applied to the performance of the various operations in each process. Attention, memory, ideas, imagination, feeling, volition, suggestibility, ability to learn, ability to discriminate, judgment, space-sense, time-sense, and other mental qualities, enter in varying measures as factors of industrial ability. Economic psychology may, it is contended, increase the efficiency of industry in three ways.
'We ask how we can find the men whose mental qualities make them best fitted for the work they have to do; secondly, under what psychological conditions we can secure the greatest and most satisfactory output of work from every man; and finally, how we can produce most completely the influences on human minds which are desired in the interests of business. In other words, we ask how to find the best possible man, how to produce the best possible work, and how to secure the best possible effects.'13
The first of these services, fitting the man to the job, involves a double psychological enquiry, first into the vocational needs, and secondly into the personal ability of each applicant to meet these needs. We must examine the task to learn what combination of mental qualities in the employee is required to do it well, and we must examine each applicant for such work to learn whether he possesses the requisite qualities.
Two illustrations will serve to indicate what is meant. The problem of selecting fit motor-men for electric railways was brought to Professor Münsterberg's attention. To drive fast and at the same time avoid accidents were the requirements of the companies. Fitness for this purpose he found to centre in a single mental process: --
'I found this to be a particular complicated act of attention by which the manifoldness of objects, the pedestrians, the carriages, and the automobiles, are continuously observed with reference to their rapidity and direction in the quickly-changing panorama of the streets. Moving figures come from the right and from the left towards and across the track, and are embedded in a stream of men and vehicles which moves parallel to the track. In the face of such manifoldness there are men whose impulses are almost inhibited and who instinctively desire to wait for the movement of the nearest objects; they would evidently be unfit for service, as they would drive the electric car far too slowly. There are others who, even with the car at full speed, can adjust themselves for a time to the complex moving situation, but whose attention soon lapses, and while they are fixating a rather distant carriage, may overlook a pedestrian who carelessly crosses the track immediately in front of this car. In short, we have a great variety of mental types of this characteristic unified variety which may be understood as a particular combination of attention and imagination.'14
An apparatus was devised, representing the psychological
conditions involved in the actual problem, not a mere miniature, but an
adaptation which should call out and test the same mental qualities. A number of
actual motor-men were then carefully examined in the working of this apparatus
so as to test the amounts of speed and accuracy and the relation between the
two. Quantitative estimates were thus reached of fitness in working the
apparatus, values being assigned respectively to speed and accuracy. In this way
a psychological standard of fitness was attained, such as would be available for
selecting applicants for the motor service. So in ship-service, where everything
may turn upon prompt and accurate handling of a sudden complicated emergency.
Ship officers are found whom a sudden danger paralyses, or keeps vacillating
until it is too late. Others, feeling only the urgency of prompt action, jump to
a too hasty decision. The desirable type is 'the men who in the unexpected
situation quickly review the totality of the factors in their relative
importance and with almost instinctive certainty immediately come to the same
decision to which they would have arrived after great thought.'15 Here again it
was possible to conduct a series of experiments, testing the mental processes
and measuring the degrees of rapidity, correctness, and constancy.
Other tests can be applied for the qualities desirable in such work as the telephone service, in which memory, attention, intelligence, exactitude, and rapidity are involved. Sometimes the mental qualities can be separately tested, sometimes their inter-relation is such as to require a simultaneous testing.
§6. It is equally obvious that a good deal can be done to increase the productive efficiency of those who have been selected for any work, by methods of teaching that involve psychological guidance. In learning such processes as typewriting and telegraphy, for instance, much can be achieved by technical adjustments of movement such as we have already described, and by considered adaptations of machine and materials to suit human faculties. But methods of improving memory and securing a more regular and accurate attention, of increasing, the rapidity of repeated actions with the least nervous wear and tear, of educating delicacy of touch and sight for specific purposes, the utilisation of rhythmic tendencies, the proper balance of intervals of work and rest, the influence of imitation and social cooperation in gang labour, and finally the effects of different quantities and modes of remuneration in evoking and maintaining the various factors of efficiency -- all such considerations offer a fruitful field for psychological investigation.
Hence psychology, it is urged, can contribute greatly to productivity by finding the best man for each job and adjusting his mental equipment to conditions of work which in their turn can be modified to fit his powers. But, regarding production as designed to satisfy human demands, psychology can be utilised also to assist in getting the right quantities and qualities of goods to the right persons. Commercial organisation exists for this purpose. It does study the wants and demands of consumers. But it might do so with more 'science'. Professor Münsterberg makes an exceedingly interesting study of the arts of advertising and of selling over the counter, to illustrate how much might be done by substituting experimental laws for instinctive and traditional practices. One comment upon this application of his science, however, is called for. Though the social-economic view would oblige the psychologist to approach the subject specifically from the standpoint of the consumer and the psychology of satisfactions in his standard of comfort, Professor Münsterberg virtually confines himself to the psychology of commerce and of marketing regarded from the standpoint of the manufacturer or merchant.
Thus psychology can be made to devise and prescribe economies of human power in industry, which, like the technical improvements of Scientific Management, would seem to increase greatly the productivity of industry, turning out larger quantities, and perhaps better qualities, of goods, with the same amount of labour.
§7. What would be the human valuation of these processes of scientific economy? Assuming that this economy fructifies in an enlarging volume of wealth, it would appear to be accompanied by an increase of welfare, unless the human costs of labour were correspondingly increased, or the distribution of the larger volume of wealth were made so much more unequal that it furnished a smaller volume of utility in its consumption. Neither of these qualifications is, indeed, excluded by the terms of the economy. For each stroke of Scientific Management is primarily justified as a profit-making device, advantageous to the capitalist-employer in a particular business. It enables him to turn out goods at a lower labour-cost and so to make a larger margin of profit on their sale. If we suppose this economy to be of wide or general adoption, it would be equivalent to an all-round increase in the technical efficiency of labour. Unless we suppose the aggregate quantity of production to be a fixed quantity (a supposition not in accordance with experience), it would seem to follow that at least as large a quantity of this more efficient labour would be employed in turning out an increased volume of goods. In that event, it would be possible that the workers, as well as the capitalist employers, should enjoy a higher rate of remuneration. Whether they would do so, however, and to what extent, seems quite uncertain. For though the payment of a considerable bonus in addition to current wages was necessary in the experiments described by Mr. Taylor, in order to evoke from a particular group of workers submission to the new terms of work, it does not follow that, once adopted by all employers in the trade, the method would entail or even permit a continuance of this higher pay. For the pioneer firm admittedly pays the bonus partly in order to overcome the pains and scruples of workers subjected to a speeding-up system. If it did not pay a bonus, the workers would quit this employment for some other that was open to them. But if no other employment upon the old terms were open, this part of the bonus might be unnecessary as an inducement. Even that part of the bonus which seems to be directed to stimulate the ambition and energy of the individual worker, and to break up the habitual slackness of the group and its regulation stroke, would seem to stand on a precarious footing, when the new method of work was once well established and itself became a habit. Only that part, if any, of the bonus, or higher wage, which was necessary to replace the greater muscular or nervous wear and tear of the speeded-up and more automatic work, would necessarily survive. It would stand as a necessary cost of production. If, however, as Mr. Taylor and Professor Münsterberg appear to hold, the scientific management need entail no such additional wear and tear, there seems no ground for holding that, after the method became general, any bonus to the workers would be necessary. And if it were unnecessary, it would not, indeed under competitive terms could not, be paid. On this hypothesis, the additional wealth created by the improved efficiency of the system might go entirely to capital. Indeed, so far as the determination were left to individual bargaining, this result would appear almost inevitable. For the greater average efficiency of labour would be equivalent to a larger supply of labour (though it might also mean a better quality), and since no immediate or corresponding increase of demand for labour need accrue, the price per unit of labour would fall. This would mean that the labourer would get no higher payment for his higher productivity. Even if the increasing rate and amount of profits brought increased saving and larger masses of competing capital, it would still seem doubtful whether the aggregate demand for labour would be found to keep pace with the growth of the supply which scientific management plus psychological selection would yield.
Though, therefore, the aggregate product increased, it remains doubtful whether any considerable share of the increase must or would go to labour. But suppose that organisation of labour or social intervention were able to secure some considerable rise of real wages from the enlarged product, so that as consumers the workers were better off, the human value of the process is not yet established. Two related questions still remain for settlement. First, that already tentatively raised, the question whether the workers may not suffer more from increased human costs of production under the new scientific régime than they gain in human utilities of consumption. Some of the 'science' in its application would indeed appear to be wholly beneficial. The improved methods of selecting and of training labour, so as to get the best man for each job, and to enable him to do his work in the best way, is pure gain, provided that best way does not unduly strain his energy or dull his mind. Other elements of applied psychology are more doubtful in their net effect. The practices of scientific advertising and of suggestive selling have very little proved utility and are nearly as likely to be applied to force the wrong articles on the wrong purchasers as to distribute wealth along the lines of its maximum utility for consumption. The persons engaged for a livelihood in palming off goods on a public irrespective of any intrinsic merits they contain, pay a heavy toll in character for the work they are called upon to do.
§8. But, turning to the main problem, there remains the issue of the increased mechanisation, or standardisation, of the worker under Scientific Management. Admitting that a certain amount of subdivision of labour, and of diminishing variety, interest and initiative, accruing therefrom, is justified in a human sense by the benefits of enhanced production, is there any limit to this economy, and if there be, is that limit transgressed under Scientific Management? The question does not admit perhaps of any general or certain answer. Suppose it be admitted, as I think it must, that every application of this Scientific Management does squeeze out of the labour-day some human interest, some call upon initiative, reason, judgment, responsibility, surviving under previous conditions even in the most routine and subdivided toil, must we necessarily regard this loss as a heavy increased human cost of labour? Surely it depends upon the particular labour in question. In some, perhaps most, branches of heavy routine toil, the shreds of human interest, the calls on personality, are usually so trifling that it seems absurd to take them into much account. The work of carrying pig-iron, or of shovelling continually the same material, contains so little scope for the play of initiative, responsibility, etc., that any such regimentation as is described can hardly be said to damage the quality of the work or the character of the worker as affected by his work. If a higher efficiency and a larger output can enable a smaller number of workmen to be kept on labour of so low a grade, there ought to be a net social gain. But there is another compensation possible for any loss of liberty, or increase of monotony, involved in Scientific Management. If it be accompanied by a shortening of the hours of labour, the damage inflicted by the rigour of mechanical discipline may be compensated by a larger leisure. This compensation, of course, is reduced or even nullified, if the greater intensity of labour in the shorter day takes more out of the man, as often happens, than was taken out before. But, assuming that this is not the case, and that for a longer dull routine work-day is substituted a shorter but even more mechanical day, a net gain for labour is still possible. I am disposed to hold that a good case might be made out for Scientific Management as regards those orders of routine labour which, as ordinarily carried on, contain very little interest or humanity. Even then, however, there is a danger that deserves attention. If this regimentation can reduce the cost per unit of dull, heavy muscular toil, as is likely, it may prevent the discovery and application of wholly mechanical substitutes for this work.
But the human economy is far more doubtful in the case of labour which, though subdivided and mainly of a routine character, still contains a margin for the display of skill, initiative and judgment. To remove these qualities altogether from such work and to vest them, as is proposed, not even in the overseers, but in a little clique of scientific experts, would mean the conversion of large bodies of skilled, intelligent workers into automatic drudges. The life and character of these men would suffer as an inevitable reaction of this drudgery, and it is doubtful whether a somewhat shortened work-day and somewhat higher wages would compensate such damage. While we may recognise the general desirability of division and specialisation of labour, some detailed liberty and flexibility should be left to the worker.
§9. Indeed, were the full rigour of Scientific Management to be applied throughout the staple industries, not only would the human costs of labour appear to be enhanced, but progress in the industrial arts itself would probably be damaged. For the whole strain of progress would be thrown upon the Scientific Management and the consulting psychologist. The large assistance given to technical invention by the observation and experiments of intelligent workmen, the constant flow of suggestion for detailed improvements, would cease. The elements of creative work still surviving in most routine labour would disappear. On the one hand, there would be small bodies of efficient taskmasters carefully administering the orders of expert managers, on the other, large masses of physically efficient but mentally inert executive machines. Though the productivity of existing industrial processes might be greatly increased by this economy, the future of industrial progress might be imperilled. For not only would the arts of invention and improvement be confined to the few, but the mechanisation of the great mass of workmen would render them less capable of adapting their labour to any other method than that to which they had been drilled. Again, such automatism in the workers would react injuriously upon their character as consumers, damaging their capacity to get full human gain out of any higher remuneration that they might obtain. It would also injure them as citizens, disabling them from taking an intelligent part in the arts of political self-government. For industrial servitude is inimical to political liberty. It would become even more difficult than now for a majority of men, accustomed in their work-day to mechanical obedience, to stand up in their capacity of citizens against their industrial rulers when, as often happens upon critical occasions, political interests correspond with economic cleavages.
I would not dogmatise upon the necessity of these human disadvantages of Scientific Management. The more rigorous routine of the work-day might be adequately compensated by shorter hours, higher wages, increased opportunities for education, recreation, and home life. But there can be no security for adequate compensations of these orders under a scientific management directed primarily by private profit-making motives. For there is no guarantee that the larger profits to a business firm do not entail a damage to its employees, not offset by the bonus which they may obtain. Nor have we the required security that any social gain in the way of increased product and lower prices may not be cancelled by the human injury inflicted upon large bodies of workers and citizens by the more mechanical and servile conditions of their labour.
§10. A little reflection will make it clear that the complete success of such a business economy would involve a corresponding 'science' on the side of consumption. The standardised worker ought also to be a standardised consumer. For the regular reliable conformity of work must involve a similar conformity in diet and in other habits of life. If the 'scientific manager' were the full owner of his workmen, it would evidently be a function of his science to work out experimentally, with the assistance of the bio-psychologist, the cheapest and best way of living for each particular trade and type of worker. He would discover and prescribe the precise combination of foods, the most hygienic clothing and housing, the most appropriate recreations and the 'best books' for each class, with a view to the productive efficiency of its members. He would encourage by bonuses eugenic, and discourage by fines dysgenesic marriages among his employees. So far as intelligent employers are in a position to determine or to influence the expenditure of the wages they pay and the general conduct of the lives of their employees outside the working hours, they are disposed to practice this policy. Where they are the owners of the town or village in which the workers find it most convenient to live, they can often do so with considerable effect. Philanthropic motives are often combined with business motives, and the combination may often be genuinely conducive to the human welfare of the community. Temperance, sanitation, and hygiene, educational and recreative opportunities may be made available. Certain regulations, chiefly of a prohibitory nature, regarding the use of alcohol, betting, or marriage, are imposed by some employers as conditions of employment. Such interferences outside the hours of labour are, however, exceptional and are generally justified on special grounds of economic safety and efficiency.
§11. But an altogether wider issue is opened up in the claims, not of the particular employer but of industrial society to impose or evoke standards of consumption scientifically adjusted to the various grades of industrial efficiency. If we regard a nation as an economic society, putting out productive energy in wealth-creation, it becomes evident that science has much to say, and can have more, regarding the expenditure of incomes and the consequent consumption of wealth. The science of scientific management, with all its psycho-physical apparatus for measuring results, can be applied to standards of living for individuals and families. The beginnings of this idea are found in the distinction which figured so largely in the classical Political Economy between productive and unproductive consumption. The discussions of Arthur Young, Eden and others, regarding the respective merits of wheat and oatmeal, beer and tea, as ingredients of working-class diet, were directed avowedly by this conception of economy. A good food was one that yielded more muscular energy or endurance per penny of expenditure. The more enlightened doctrine known as 'the economy of high wages' was early recommended by philanthropists like Robert Owen, or business men like Mr. Brassey, on the score of experiments relating to the larger output of labour-power which higher wages with better feeding rendered possible. But there was no 'science' worth mention in these crude experiments. Only within recent years, with the advance of organic chemistry and physiology, has the 'science' of dietetics begun to emerge, analysing the various foods and assigning them their values as producers of tissue and of energy. We are now told the quantities of proteids, carbohydrates and fats contained in various foods, and dietaries based upon these analyses are prescribed for different sorts of workers, and for different ages of members of a family. At present the science does not pretend to any large amount of accuracy, indeed wide divergences still exist in its very foundations. But there is no reason to doubt that further analysis and experimentation may be able to reach food standards which on the consumption side will correspond to the economy of standard methods of work under scientific management. It may be quite possible to lay down with considerable exactitude the amounts and combinations and intervals of food for coal-miners, weavers, clerks, motor-men, etc., together with estimates of the amount of expenditure required to maintain the different forms of industrial efficiency. The productive value of other elements of the wage-earner's expenditure will not indeed admit of so much exactitude, partly because his own 'utility' obtained from such expenditure will not easily be separable from that of his family. But though family expenditure cannot thus be regarded as exclusively directed by productive considerations, the physical efficiency which is its chief test may be regarded primarily as an industrial asset. Indeed, this view is implicit in most talk of standards of comfort and in most discussions of a 'minimum' or 'living' or 'subsistence' wage. It means such wage as, economically expended, will enable a wage-earner to rear an average family in that measure and kind of efficiency required to do work of a sort similar to that by which he earns the wage. No doubt this notion is tempered by some slight considerations of education and of betterment. But productive efficiency is always the basic factor. Food and housing, by far the most important elements in working-class expenditure, are clearly in process of being standardised by hygienics in the service of a science of productive consumption.
§12. Two other sciences, by which society may seek to standardise the lives of workers, are eugenics and education. In both of these the humanists may have a fierce battle to fight against the dominion of the industrialists. Eugenics, if it can get recognition as a social art, will regulate marriage for the purposes of good stock. But good for what? Perhaps for industry and war, if some specialists should have their way. So too with education. Primary education has already been ear-marked in our towns for the production of cheap clerks, and technical and professional training under various guises invade our citadels of higher learning. All is part of the same great claim of society to economise and standardise the body and the mind of its citizen, primarily in order that he may do more efficiently the social or routine services it requires of him.
This economic standardisation, as we recognise, is not identical in motives or in operation as it bears respectively upon the productive and consumptive functions. On its productive side it is regulated by considerations of private business profits. Its primary aim is to get men to work in such a way as to produce the largest margin between the wage necessary to evoke full efficiency under 'scientific management' and the market value of the output. Indirectly, it is claimed, this policy redounds to the advantage of industrial society in an increase of the body of consumable wealth, some considerable share of which will pass into the general store. On its consumptive side the scientific standardisation works differently. It is plied more directly as a social-economic art, working out for the family, as well as for the individual workman, a standard of living, physical, intellectual, and moral, conducive to the interests of society regarded as an economic or wealth-producing entity.16 But though society, in thus seeking to secure standards of economic efficiency for its family units, is not directly concerned in furthering the profit-seeking ends of private business firms, indirectly it is doing so. For, so long as expenditure of income, or family budgets, are estimated strictly in accordance with the economic efficiency they yield to the present and prospective working members, the process is in reality supplementary to the science of business management. For the better birth, better rearing, better health and education which it furnishes, will all eventually be translated into larger quantity and better quality of labour-power for scientific management to handle in its various profit-making processes.
Now the thoughtful members of the working-classes have always half-instinctively regarded with some suspicion the endeavours of social reformers to make them use cheaper foods yielding more nutriment for the money, temperance movements to keep down their conventional necessaries, and technical education to make their labour-power more productive. For they have doubted whether the cheaper living or the increased productivity would necessarily come home to them in improved conditions of life. Nor has their suspicion been wholly groundless. Though in the long run, it might seem to follow that as consumers and even perhaps, though less surely, as wage-earners, they would get some gain from the more economical use of their labour-powers, the bulk of the visible gains might very well pass into the hands of the employing classes in higher profits or salaries of management.
This consideration opens the deeper criticism which humanism and Sociology are entitled and required to press upon the policy of the industrial economists. Every improvement in the technique of the arts of industry or of consumption may be considered as conducive to economic progress, yielding an increase of marketable wealth. But, if such improvements increase the human costs of production, or diminish the human utilities of consumption, as may happen if they consist largely in the standardising of productive and consumptive processes, they may bring no increase, possibly may bring a decrease, of human welfare. Proposals for scientific management or for standardised dietaries are not indeed to be condemned, upon the general application of such criticism. For it is agreed that such standardisation within certain limits is socially advantageous. The question, therefore, is partly one of degree, partly as to the security there exists that the economic gains of the improved economy shall be properly apportioned.
§13. But the final test would not consist in determining whether increased costs and diminished utilities did or did not offset the prima facie advantages of the economic improvements. The art of social welfare, humanism, will insist upon considering the reactions of the standardisation of work and consumption upon other faculties and functions than the economic, and in considering prospective as well as present gains. A scientific rigour in economy of work and of expenditure, which should remove, both from the industry and the lives of the great masses of a population, all opportunities for initiative, experiment, risk-taking and the display of personality, might reduce the human value of life for the average man, and so impair the worth of the society. Humanism, therefore, while approving the application of science to the arts of production and consumption, insists that it shall be shown to be the servant not the master of humanity. Such proof is sought, because the assumption, so often made, that all such economic progress must be humanly profitable, is seen to be unwarranted.
A 'scientific' view of human industry would establish the following lines of investigation.
(1) The productive ability of each producer would be considered in relation to its technical efficiency, i.e., the best way for him to do his job.
(2) His special productive function would be considered in its reactions (a) upon his general standard of life on its economic side, i.e., in relation to his productive and consumptive functions; (b) upon his individual human life.
(3) The standard of consumption of each consumer would be considered in relation to its technical efficiency (a) for purposes of production; (b) for purposes of individual welfare.
(4) Industry as a social function would be subjected to criticism from the wider standpoint of social welfare, i.e., as one element contributing to the life of a nation.
Finally, an analysis of the human worth of existing industry on its productive and consumptive sides would not suffice. For such an analysis merely accepts the existing system of industry and enquires into the best human methods of working it.
But humanist criticism must, of course, go behind this acceptance. The problem of industry which it will envisage will be one that takes as its data the existing resources of the nation, natural and human, and considers how these resources may, in accordance with present knowledge, be best applied for the provision of organic welfare according to the best accepted interpretation of that term. However difficult it may be to secure, to justify and to apply that standpoint, this is the form in which the economic problem must present itself to the statesman, the publicist, and the social reformer, so far as they are clear-sighted, rational and disinterested in their work.
So regarded, each individual would be considered as a complex of activities and wants, whose specialised work for society must be harmonised with that freedom and exercise of his non-specialised functions needed to enable him to realise himself as a human personality. Due consideration would be given to the interplay of his productive and consumptive functions within his economic life. His economic life must, however, be kept in due subordination to his wider human life, consisting, as the latter does, mainly of non-economic functions.
Finally, his economic and human life as a personality must be harmonised with the economic and human life of the society of which he is a member.
Such are the main implications of what might be termed the human scientific calculus of industrial values.
1. The Principles of Scientific Management (Harper &
2. Op. cit., p. 65.
3. The Principles of Scientific Management, p. 74.
4. The Principles of Scientific Management, p. 100.
5. 'While one who is not experienced at making his men really enthusiastic in their work cannot appreciate how athletic contests will interest the men, it is the real secret of the success of our best superintendents. It not only reduces costs, but it makes for organisation and thus saves foremen's time.' F. G. Gilbreth, Bricklaying System, p. 13.
6. The Principles of Scientific Management, p. 83.
7. Taylor, p. 85.
8. Op. cit., p. 103.
9. Op. cit., p. 37.
10. Taylor , p. 1 26.
11. Taylor, p. 59.
12. Psychology and Industrial Efficiency.
13. Op. cit., p. 23.
14. Op. cit., p. 66.
15. Op. cit., p. 85.
16. This rationalisation of life for distinctively economic purposes, alike on its productive and expenditure side, has been carried further by the Jews than by any other people, i.e., their religion, politics, eugenics and education have been directed more exclusively and more rationalistically towards the business arts in which they excel, those of the financier, undertaker, trader, than in the case of other peoples. See Sombart, The Jews and Modern Capitalism, Chs. IX and X.