Taylorism and Fordism

Thus, though each of them signified a radical departure from the earlier modes of batch-production workshops, Taylorism and Fordism differed in their scope, and focus in manufacturing operations. Taylor’s emphasis was upon a ‘bureaucracy’ of specialists, while the role of administration was minimized in Ford’s approach. It is sometimes alleged that Fordism dehumanized the worker whereas scientific management convinced the workers that their goals could be readily achieved along with their employers’ goals.

At the same time, it is also claimed by others that Taylorism was more prone to treat labor strictly as a commodity, while Fordism recognized that the people it employed were part of the market for its products, and consequently took an interest in the lives of workers as consumers as well as producers. Historically speaking, Ford’s five-dollar-a-day policy, which signified a relatively high wage level, testifies to this (Watson 1980). But in a way as to match Ford, Taylor promised premium bonuses to his workers and spoke about the material betterment of the labor.

To complicate the situation further, there is another set of historians who maintain that, rhetoric apart, Ford and Taylor both were solely intent on achieving greater efficiency and higher per capita productivity, and as such was hardly bothered about the material or moral improvement of their workforce (Dubofsky 2000). Whatever the fact of the matter may be, in the final analysis, it is indisputable that the contributions of both Taylor and Ford have drastically changed the face of industrialized countries across the world and made everyone better off. Also read about Taylorism and Fordism

Since the mid 70’s, however, there has been a growing awareness of the welfare of workers, and managers nowadays realize the moral right of workers to be treated more humanely. In the recent decades, sweeping changes in markets and technology have led managers and manufacturers, engineers and entrepreneurs to go for greater product diversity and more flexible methods of production. Movements towards a more flexible and individual-oriented organization have been gaining momentum since the 1990’s.

All these trends widely seen in modern organizations of today have given rise to approaches to production that are categorized under post-Fordism / modified scientific management. However, this would be merely an intermediate phase. In ten, twenty years from now, advances in robotics, nanotechnology and such other sciences would severely cut short the need for labor engaged in automated tasks. “Dehumanization” of workforce may no more be a concern, but such a situation would raise many more serious issues of its own.

References:

Dubofsky, Melvyn. 2000. Hard Work: The Making of Labor History. Champaign, IL : University of Illinois Press Ford, Henry. 1926. Mass production, in The Encyclopedia Britannica. V. 30, pp. 821-23. Available from memory. loc. gov/cgi-bin/ampage? collId=cool&itemLink=r? ammem/coolbib:@field(NUMBER+@band(amrlg+lg48))&hdl=amrlg:lg48:0001. [Accessed 28 August 2006] Jones, Bryn. 1997. Forcing the Factory of the Future: Cybernation and Societal Institutions.

Cambridge, UK : Cambridge University Press Kanigel, Robert. 1997. The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency. Cambridge, MA : MIT Press Mathew, P. M. 2005. Flexible Specialization for Rural Industries? A Study of the Bamboo and Rattan Subsector in Indian Industrial Clusters, ed. Keshab Das. pp. 143-160. Burlington, VT : Ashgate Publishing Watson, Tony J. 1980. Sociology, Work and Industry. London : Routledge

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