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Business
are constantly looking to implement new methodologies to maximize efficiency. Every business
started up to attain its predefined goals and objectives while particularly
stressing on its ability of maintaining its survival and profitability
constantly. In doing so, the efficiency counts greatly.

The
division of labour is a perfect example of maximizing efficiency and has
immensely contributed to the success of millions of business worldwide such as
Apple, Mercedes etc.

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In this
essay, I will discuss what the division of labour is and why it plays a vital
role in businesses success. I will also discuss the matter of new technology and
the impact it has on the division of labour.

 

The division
of labour is defined as the assignment of different parts of
a manufacturing process or task to different people in order to improve
efficiency.

”The Wealth of Nations” is a
famous book written by a Scottish political economist and philosopher, Adam
Smith. The theme of this book is focused on the concept of economic growth.
Within the text, Adam smith states that growth is rooted in the increasing
division of labour.

He basically believed and argued
that firms who implement the division of labour in their place of work produced
a much better outcome compared to non-divided labour. He then further made a
statement to say:

 

The
greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part
of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed, seem
to have been the effects of division of labour.

 

An assembly line
worker manufactures parts and joins them together to construct products
like TV’s, Laptops, electronics and household appliances. Some assemblers specialize in a particular
part, such as electric motors,
or a type of product, such as office machinery.

The purpose of assembly line technology is that the worker should
divert all their attention on a specific part of the production process. This
system of labour has proven to be more beneficial to the economic society. I
will now begin to discuss the benefits.

The obvious advantage is that there is a huge increase in
productivity. Smith gives an example of a pin factory in his text with regards
to productivity. He says:

 

“Ten persons, however, were
found to manufacture among them 48 thousand pins in a day or 4,800 pins per
head per day. Individually and acting separately one man could scarcely have
manufactured 20, and may not perhaps even more than on a day. The efficiency
was due, of course, in consequence of a division and combination of different
“operation”.    

 

Another benefit is that there is an increase
in dexterity and skill. It is clear and evident that when a worker has
routinely worked on a specific task for long period of time, they have now specialized
in that particular task. They have mastered the art of performing that task.

As Adam Smith mentions in his book:

The division of
labor by reducing every man business to some one simple operation and by making
this operation the sole employment of his life necessarily increases very much
the dexterity of the worker”.

 

In general, another huge benefit for society
is that the division of labour increase employment. As previously said before,
assembly lines have a purpose of splitting tasks between workers. So instead of
one person doing all the tasks, each worker is assigned to a specific part of
the process. So therefore, business implementing the division of labour in
their workforce will require more employees as there will be several tasks.

 

The Division of labour allows companies to be
more cost efficient. They can produce a larger scaler at a lower cost. Apple,
one of many companies use this method for this advantage and have gained huge
success from it. Apple is now approximated said to have a net worth of
900biillion dollars.

The way Apple did this is having their
products to be manufactured at China where the labour costs are relatively cheap
compared to other countries. Having their products manufactured in china meant
that they will also offer a quick service on delivering their finished
products.

 

However, with that being said, Adam Smith also
acknowledged that there are disadvantages of this system. He realized that
forcing workers to perform these specific tasks repetitively on a regular basis
would cause boredom and monotony. This then results into the concept of
alienation which impacts everyday life due to capitalism.

Karl
Marx who was a German philosopher and economist developed the theoretical
concept of Alienation. This theory explained how working within a capitalist
system of production has negatively impacted society. This theory describes how
workers have been isolated and have had their lives stripped from them or as they
say ‘dehumanized’.

The
division of labour production process is divided in a way that when an individual
performs these repetitive tasks, it provides no satisfaction to the worker. The
work that he performs everyday has be come meaningless. Due to economic
circumstances, the worker may be forced to spend the rest of his life doing the
same work which he truly not happy in.

 

Furthermore,
with technology rapidly advancing, workers are at risk of unemployment.
Businesses are already seeking opportunities to replace workers with robots. This
would be more beneficial to private companies but looked as a disadvantage to
society. There are several reasons for why this would be beneficial for
companies.

Businesses
would see this as a huge investment in their labour workforce. With humans no
longer being needed to carry out the specific tasks, robot’s will be on the job
24/7 which is far more convenient for the business. Although the machines can
be quite pricey, the business will not have to dig into their profits to pay ‘workers’.
As robots would replace humans, the alternative to a ‘salary’ would for the
business to pay the maintenance of running these machines. This however would
still be way cheaper than paying workers a salary in the long run.

 

I will
now begin to discuss the concept of Taylorism and Fordism and how these have
been implemented into the modern era.

 

Taylorism
is a methodology named and developed by an American mechanical engineer,
Frederick Winslow Taylor. Taylorism was the idea that there is a direct
correlation between productivity and efficiency. During his life, Taylor
studied and analysed human labour and the work of employees on the work floor.
By doing this, he was able to come up with ideas on how employees could work to
their optimal level.

Taylor
believed and argued that every task could be specifically planned in a way
which would immensely improve the productivity of the work. By being more efficient,
the outcome will be far greater.

 

Apple
employees in china are more or less treated like ‘machines’. Each employee part
of the production process is expected to do the same task over and over again.
They are expected to do this in order for the business to run as efficiently as
possible. As Taylor says:

–      
That
the greatest prosperity can exist only as the result of the greatest possible
productivity of the men and establishment (Taylor 1919)

Working
at an optimal level has been a huge benefit to Apple as they are also able to
give their customers more satisfaction. Due to this, it is evident that there
is a direct relationship between efficiency in manufacturing and customer
satisfaction.

 

Fordism
developed by Henry Ford is quite similar to Taylorism. Ford used a different
approach. He realized that craftsmen were too expensive to mass produce
products. From this, he concluded that tasks should broken down into more
simple tasks until they could be performed by less skilled workers. With less
skilled workers, they would be paid far less than compared to a skilled worker.

 

In
comparison with Taylorism, Ford understood that mass production is dependent on
mass markets.

Every worker
involved in the production process had a specific task as the car went along
the assembly line. Although productive efficiency was maximized, there were a
few disadvantages. A huge amount of workers has been absent which delayed the
course of production. Another disadvantage was that there were extremely high
rates of labour turnover. Labour turnover is the proportion of a firm’s workplaces
that leaves during the course of a year. If there is less employees, production
slows down so the company have to invest time and money in finding a new
employee and training them.

 

In
conclusion, it is evident that there is a direct relationship between the division
of labour and productivity although there have been may drawbacks with this
concept to the modern era. As technology advances, production is becoming
easier but this may not be beneficial to society as employment is at risk. I’ve
discussed also the concept of Taylorism and Fordism and these methodologies have
been used in the division of labour. 

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