Thought for Food

As a prominent labour member of parliament puts it, “industrial power in every large developed economy now rests with a managerial class which is responsible to no one. The form of ownership is irrelevant. As expressed by another influential labour spokesman: “efficiency has little to do with ownership because in the modern corporation ownership has little to do with control . . , the basic fact is the large corporation, facing fundamentally similar problems, acts in fundamentally the same way whether publicly or privately owned.

The managerial literature tends to be conflicting and notably unpersuasive. This is unfortunate, since it seems to be a fact that the institutional stability and opportunity for growth of an economic system are heavily dependent on the existence of a philosophy or ideology justifying the system in a manner generally acceptable to the leaders of thought in the community. Classical economics in the form of a “philosophy of natural liberty” performed that function admirably for nineteenth-century capitalism. As everyone now recognizes, classical economics provided not only a system, of analysis, or analytical “model ” intended to be useful to the explanation of economic behavior but also a defense and a carefully reasoned defense of the proposition that the economic behavior promoted and constrained by the institutional enterprise system is in the best public interest.  Sir David Summers (1889)

In the first place, then, we must remind ourselves once  more of the central fact about the government of modern industry—-that strictly speaking there is no such thing. The normal economic system works itself. For its current operation it is under no central control, it needs no central survey.

Over the whole range of human activity and human need, supply is adjusted to demand, and production to consumption, by a process that is automatic, elastic and responsive. . . .   This intricate system has been built and is maintained by the work of thousands of men, of keen but limited vision, each working within his own special sphere, each normally seeing and knowing only his own and the immediately adjacent territory. . . .

Since the rude shock of world war broke this machine, the world has been looking for the supermen who made it and controlled it, for those who understood it both in its basic principles and its infinite detail, and could therefore re-fashion and re-model it to the new conditions. It has not found them. They do not exist. Joseph Costello (1922)

It is obvious that the broad advantages of the division of labour—the right employment of special talent and the acquisition of special skill and rapidity in dealing with a limited range of problems and situations— apply at least as forcibly to labour with the mind as to labour with the hands.

From top to bottom of modern industry this principle of the specialization of brain work finds endless application. Among the supreme heads of a business—the partners of a private firm or the directors of a joint-stock company—one may devote himself mainly to the technical aspects of a business, another to its commercial and financial policy. Further down in the scale, the works manager of a modern concern, who is responsible for the actual conduct of production in the works, is an entirely different person, differently trained and with a different staff, from the head of the sales department and from the chief accountant.

The commercial traveller would find himself utterly at sea in the accountant’s office, or the foreman of the foundry in the pattern shop. Indeed, even within his own narrow kingdom the foreman has, in a few modern businesses, been shorn of much of his undifferentiated glory. The strands of his miscellaneous authority have been sorted out and placed in separate and more specialized hands. It is no longer for him to tell the workman what job to do next—that is done by the planning and routing department, whose written instructions or living emissaries leave him little or no discretion in the matter. It is no longer for him to tell the workman how the job should be done—that again is laid down on an instruction card or communicated direct to the workman by a band of itinerant experts on particular aspects of the work to be performed. In some cases of scientific management, all that is left of the general all-round foreman is an expert in discipline —a specialist in the bullying or soothing of men. It is evident that the elaborate division of brain work is a powerful force operating on the side of the large firm against the small, and tending to increase the average size of firms.

The small employer who has to supervise his own workmen, to do his own buying and selling, to keep his own accounts, to devise his own methods of hypnotizing the consumer, is clearly at a grave disadvantage compared with the large firm which can put each of these activities in the hands of a specialized staff. To segregate problems of technique from problems of finance, to deal in large figures with buyers and sellers and transport agencies and banks, to be free to shake one’s wings and scan wide horizons and harbour deep designs—these are mighty weapons in the competitive struggle, even though the actual physical work of production is best carried on in establishments of moderate dimensions. It is the economies of large-scale government rather than of large-scale technique which dictate the size of the modern business unit.

Not that even here the advantages are all on the side of size. In a large business many matters have to be embalmed in routine which in a small one can be left to impromptu and intelligent decision. Loss of touch with detail is the price which all but the greatest must pay for freedom to concentrate upon broad issues. Even the supreme gift of leadership, the gift of choosing your subordinates rightly and of trusting them when chosen, is not a complete insurance against mishap: and those who cannot see the trees for the wood may sometimes stumble over an ugly root. In some branches of business there is no substitute for the ubiquitous eye of the small master, his first-hand acquaintance with detail, his direct touch with employee and customer.  John van Name (1924)

One day “boss” Kettering (delco) was approached by a young superintendent named Louis Ruthenberg. He had an idea – that “an individual foreman could become a skilled, effective manager of people through his own efforts and on his own time” if only given the opportunity. This was truly a new concept, for the foreman was characterized (rightfully so, most of the time) as a hard-boiled, blunt person who moved his employees by coercion, force, and threat of discharge.

However, kettering saw the wisdom and the “win-win” for everyone in Ruthenberg’s idea, so he encouraged and supported the young man in his endeavors. The result? The area’s first class  in  management  was  taught  at  the  Dayton  YMCA  in  november  of  1919.  Louis Ruthenberg was the instructor, that idea spread like wildfire. These foremen immediately showed that they had a real hunger to become professionals, with the increase in stature and income that accompanied professionals. The period where there was a social stigma to being a foreman was coming to a close. Finally, foremen began to acquire skills as leaders – in addition to the technical requirements of their jobs.

By 1922, this initial band of workers became the foreman’s club   of Dayton in order to provide “better structure”    to    the concept of continuing education. At the same time, other independent groups began to spring up elsewhere in ohio so by 1924, at the national cash register auditorium, representatives from five ohio communities created the Ohio federation of foremen’s clubs under the leadership of Thomas Fordham, their first president.

Soon, similar clubs began to spring up in Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois. On October 8, 1925, 26 industrial supervisors from across the midwest met at dayton’s ymca to form the organization that, by year’s end, would become the national association of foremen. Louis Ruthenberg was present and stated, “…that little group has grown, not only into a large, permanent organization of high ideals and remarkable potential, but also into a strong federation of such groups.”

Upon chartering, the founders agreed with Ruthenberg and stated, “when foremen realize their opportunities, they will, of their own accord, take the necessary steps to measure up to them.” James Fisher (1931)

How do you pick a foreman? Who is he? Perhaps he is some piece worker that has shown by some quality or other, at some time or other, that he is a little better than the fellows around him. All right, you need a foreman. You pick him. Old dame fortune picked him out and put him on a pedestal. “ah! You are a foreman.” The magic wreath goes round his brow. “you know all about efficiency methods, time study methods.” Magic! “you know all about planning; you are an expert planner. You know all those things. You are on that pedestal now.” On the other side, a little dab here. “you know all about handling men. You are on that pedestal. You are a foreman.” Joseph O’Neill (1921)

In the broad sense that no business can escape its balance sheet, it is true that the economic or money motive governs the administration of business. Nevertheless, my observation in several different well-managed businesses convinces me that business decisions are constantly being made that are not based on economic motives. This is something that businessmen seldom admit, and of which they are frequently unaware. Prestige, competitive reputation, social standing, philanthropic interests, combativeness, love of intrigue, dislike of friction, technical interest, napoleonic dreams, love of accomplishing useful things, desire for regard of employees, love of publicity, fear of publicity—a long catalogue of noneconomic motives actually condition the management of business, and nothing but the balance sheet keeps these non-economic motives from running wild. Yet without all these incentives I think most business would be a lifeless failure. There is not enough vitality in dollars to keep business running on any such scale as we experience it, nor are the things which can be directly purchased with money an adequate incentive.  Chester i. Barnard (1925)

Among the most profound problems with which society must concern itself under present day conditions is that relating to the determination, achievement, and maintenance of optimal conditions in all types of organized human enterprise. The overwhelming economic disaster of WWI, from the effects of which the world is still suffering, halted with ruthless force an era of unparalleled expansion which, in the United States of America at least, assumed proportions indicative of a belief in the feasibility of unlimited growth and unchecked size.

As we falteringly proceed upon the road to recovery, we are faced with new political, social and economic trends and doctrines which are evidently destined to bring into being forms of organization and control without precedent in our experience, and to call for qualities of cooperation and joint action on the part of businessmen, engineers, social scientists, government officials, labour representatives, and others, far beyond any need of the past. Having then, narrowly escaped completed destruction upon the rock of scylla, are we now being drawn with increasing force into the whirlpool of charybdis?

The optimum—for government, as well as business—is that state of development of an enterprise which, when reached and maintained, tends to perpetuate an equilibrium among the factors of size, cost, and human capacity which would provide ideal realization of the organizational objectives. The optimum size is at this state of equilibrium rather than connected, in any way, with bigness alone. Dr. Harry arthur Hopf (1921)

Power is always potential. That is, when it is used it becomes something else, either force or authority. This is the respect which gives meaning, for example, to the concept of a “fleet in being” in naval strategy. A fleet in being represents power, even though it is never used. When it goes into action, of course, it is no longer power, but force. It is for this reason that the allies were willing to destroy the battleship Richelieu, berthed at Dakar, after the fall of France, at the price of courting the disfavor of the french. Why should the battleship, the mightiest engine of destruction afloat, require such care in assuring its protection with sufficient cruiser, destroyer, and air support? The answer is that a battleship is even more effective as a symbol of power than it is as an instrument of force. Elton Mayo (1943)

In any association members become acquainted with each other and begin to interact not only ‘extrinsically” and categorically,” in terms of the statuses they occupy, but also ‘intrinsically” and “personally,” in terms of the roles they play and the personalities they exhibit. Sub-groups arise and begin to exert subtle pressures upon the organization itself, upon the norms which may be breached in the observance thereof, and upon the authority which, however firmly institutionalized, is yet subject to change.

These sub-groups may, as cliques and factions, remain within the association or, as sects and splinter groups, break away from it. In any event, no formal organization can remain wholly formal under the exigencies of time and circumstance. Power is seldom completely institutionalized as authority, and then no more than momentarily. If power sustains the structure, opposing power threatens it, and every association is always at the mercy of a majority of its own members. In all associations, the power of people acting in concert is so great that the prohibition against combinations appears in the statutes of all military organizations and the right of collective petition is denied to all military personnel. Elton Mayo (1934)

In practice, institutional corporations are guided by tiny, self-perpetuating oligarchies. These in turn are drawn from and judged by the group opinion of a small fragment of America—its business and financial community. Change of management by contesting for stockholders’ votes is extremely rare, and increasingly difficult and expensive to the point of impossibility. The legal presumption in favor of management, and the natural unwillingness of courts to control or reverse management action save in cases of the more elementary types of dishonesty and fraud, leaves management with substantially absolute power. Thus the only real control which guides or limits their economic and social action is the real, though undefined and tacit, philosophy of the men who compose them. Head sheds have no legally enforceable responsibility for prudent operation of their organization. George c. Homans (1934)

Even if we confine our view to western countries and modem times, the forms of business organization which have been actually tried, to say nothing of those which have been suggested, are very numerous and diverse. And there is a further difficulty. As in politics so in industry, we may study carefully the external forms of an institution without being much the wiser about its inner nature—about the processes by which decisions are really reached or the hands in which power really lies. An industrial label such as ‘‘joint-stock company,” to take the most important example, may bear very different meanings in different instances. Moreover, those who have the most accurate knowledge of the way industry is really governed are often least able or willing to impart their knowledge in words. The result is that we have to deal, and deal to some extent in the dark, not only with great varieties of external organization, but with still greater varieties of industrial practice. Into this labyrinth we may take one clue, which will serve us in good stead.

You will remember being restrained in your youth from the pursuit of desirable courses of action by the quotation of admonitory proverbs: and they may remember further that some of these proverbs had a habit of going about in contradictory pairs, so that action in any direction was made to seem dangerous if not impossible. It is one such pair of contradictory proverbs that furnishes the key to the complexities of modern industry. “many hands make light work ” : “too many cooks spoil the broth.” How reconcile the implications of these two aphorisms, each in its way so sensible? The answer is that in modern industry they are not reconciled: and their mutual conflict is the source of the perpetual shifting of the sands of industrial structure. Norman Dorn (1925)

When we take a first glance at modern industry with a view to discovering the method of its government, the first fact which strikes us would be startling, if it were not so familiar. It is that the most obvious economic problem which confronts the inhabitants of any country or of the world as a whole does not appear to be submitted to any deliberate or conscious decision at all.

That problem is to determine how the limited natural resources of the community, its limited flow of savings, its limited equipment of human brains and hands, is to be allocated between the infinity of different uses in which they are capable of yielding a harvest of enjoyment. In the main this momentous decision is left to the operation of what are somewhat vaguely termed natural forces, acting through the desires and activities of disconnected individuals.

The final arbiter is the scattered army of consumers, whose freely expressed preferences and aversions attract and repel the community’s resources in this direction and in that. The immediate agent is the more compact but still very heterogeneous company of the leaders of business, who severally decide what shall be produced and in what quantities, in accordance with the evidence that reaches them of the desires of consumers. How value or price stands at the centre of this system, or lack of system, acting as finger-post or danger-signal to consumers and producers, and exercising a sway more absolute than that of an oriental emperor or russian commissary: how the use of money in the main oils the wheels of the machine, and in detail often throws it out of gear: the merits and defects of the whole arrangement. Robert Stampley (1928)

The art of human collaboration seems to have disappeared during two centuries of quite remarkable material progress. The various nations seem to have lost all capacity for international co-operation in the necessary tasks of civilization. The internal condition of each nation is not greatly better: it seems that only a threat from without, an unmistakable emergency, can momentarily quiet the struggle of rival groups. In this general situation it would seem that inquiries such as those undertaken by officers of the Western Electric company have an urgent practical importance that is second to no other human undertaking.

How can humanity’s capacity for spontaneous co-operation be restored? It is in this area that leadership is most required, a leadership that has nothing to do with political “isms” or eloquent speeches. What is wanted is knowledge, a type of knowledge that has escaped us in two hundred years of prosperous development. How to substitute human responsibility for futile strife and hatreds — this is one of the most important researches of our time. Elton Mayo (1933)

In watching the effects of supervisory training we find that all too often the results are not up to expectations. While some of this may be blamed on the training itself or upon the ability of the foreman, in many cases it seems that the foreman is responding quite directly to his own work situation. In other words, if the foreman acts in arbitrary and inconsiderate fashion because that is the way he feels he is treated and if he thinks he is expected to act that way, no amount of supervisory training is apt to change him. In fact the foreman’s cry of “why don’t you give this to our bosses” is a common response to any training in how to deal with people. Thus he feels that he is doing the best he can, that he wants to be friendly and considerate to his subordinates, but conditions beyond his control prevent it. William Whyte 1945

In the broad sense that no business can escape its balance sheet, it is true that the economic or money motive governs the administration of business. Nevertheless, my observation in several different well-managed businesses convinces me that business decisions are constantly being made that are not based on economic motives. This is something that businessmen seldom admit, and of which they are frequently unaware. Prestige, competitive reputation, social standing, philanthropic interests, combativeness, love of intrigue, dislike of friction, technical interest, napoleonic dreams, love of accomplishing useful things, desire for regard of employees, love of publicity, fear of publicity—a long catalogue of noneconomic motives actually condition the management of business, and nothing but the balance sheet keeps these non-economic motives from running wild. Yet without all these incentives i think most business would be a lifeless failure. There is not enough vitality in dollars to keep business running on any such scale as we experience it, nor are the things which can be directly purchased with money an adequate incentive.  Chester i. Barnard (1925)

Among the most profound problems with which society must concern itself under present day conditions is that relating to the determination, achievement, and maintenance of optimal conditions in all types of organized human enterprise. The overwhelming economic disaster of wwi, from the effects of which the world is still suffering, halted with ruthless force an era of unparalleled expansion which, in the united states of america at least, assumed proportions indicative of a belief in the feasibility of unlimited growth and unchecked size.

As we falteringly proceed upon the road to recovery, we are faced with new political, social and economic trends and doctrines which are evidently destined to bring into being forms of organization and control without precedent in our experience, and to call for qualities of cooperation and joint action on the part of businessmen, engineers, social scientists, government officials, labour representatives, and others, far beyond any need of the past. Having then, narrowly escaped completed destruction upon the rock of Scylla, are we now being drawn with increasing force into the whirlpool of Charybdis?

The optimum—for government, as well as business—is that state of development of an enterprise which, when reached and maintained, tends to perpetuate an equilibrium among the factors of size, cost, and human capacity which would provide ideal realization of the organizational objectives. The optimum size is at this state of equilibrium rather than connected, in any way, with bigness alone. Dr. Harry Arthur Hopf (1921)

In any association members become acquainted with each other and begin to interact not only ‘extrinsically” and categorically,” in terms of the statuses they occupy, but also ‘intrinsically” and “personally,” in terms of the roles they play and the personalities they exhibit. Sub-groups arise and begin to exert subtle pressures upon the organization itself, upon the norms which may be breached in the observance thereof, and upon the authority which, however firmly institutionalized, is yet subject to change.

These sub-groups may, as cliques and factions, remain within the association or, as sects and splinter groups, break away from it. In any event, no formal organization can remain wholly formal under the exigencies of time and circumstance. Power is seldom completely institutionalized as authority, and then no more than momentarily. If power sustains the structure, opposing power threatens it, and every association is always at the mercy of a majority of its own members. In all associations, the power of people acting in concert is so great that the prohibition against combinations appears in the statutes of all military organizations and the right of collective petition is denied to all military personnel. Elton Mayo (1934)

In practice, institutional corporations are guided by tiny, self-perpetuating oligarchies. These in turn are drawn from and judged by the group opinion of a small fragment of america—its business and financial community. Change of management by contesting for stockholders’ votes is extremely rare, and increasingly difficult and expensive to the point of impossibility. The legal presumption in favor of management, and the natural unwillingness of courts to control or reverse management action save in cases of the more elementary types of dishonesty and fraud, leaves management with substantially absolute power. Thus the only real control which guides or limits their economic and social action is the real, though undefined and tacit, philosophy of the men who compose them. Head sheds have no legally enforceable responsibility for prudent operation of their organization. George c. Homans (1934)

Even if we confine our view to western countries and modem times, the forms of business organization which have been actually tried, to say nothing of those which have been suggested, are very numerous and diverse. And there is a further difficulty. As in politics so in industry, we may study carefully the external forms of an institution without being much the wiser about its inner nature—about the processes by which decisions are really reached or the hands in which power really lies. An industrial label such as ‘‘joint-stock company,” to take the most important example, may bear very different meanings in different instances. Moreover, those who have the most accurate knowledge of the way industry is really governed are often least able or willing to impart their knowledge in words. The result is that we have to deal, and deal to some extent in the dark, not only with great varieties of external organization, but with still greater varieties of industrial practice. Into this labyrinth we may take one clue, which will serve us in good stead.

You will remember being restrained in your youth from the pursuit of desirable courses of action by the quotation of admonitory proverbs: and they may remember further that some of these proverbs had a habit of going about in contradictory pairs, so that action in any direction was made to seem dangerous if not impossible. It is one such pair of contradictory proverbs that furnishes the key to the complexities of modern industry. “many hands make light work” : “too many cooks spoil the broth.” How reconcile the implications of these two aphorisms, each in its way so sensible? The answer is that in modern industry they are not reconciled: and their mutual conflict is the source of the perpetual shifting of the sands of industrial structure. Norman Dorn (1925)

When we take a first glance at modern industry with a view to discovering the method of its government, the first fact which strikes us would be startling, if it were not so familiar. It is that the most obvious economic problem which confronts the inhabitants of any country or of the world as a whole does not appear to be submitted to any deliberate or conscious decision at all.

That problem is to determine how the limited natural resources of the community, its limited flow of savings, its limited equipment of human brains and hands, is to be allocated between the infinity of different uses in which they are capable of yielding a harvest of enjoyment. In the main this momentous decision is left to the operation of what are somewhat vaguely termed natural forces, acting through the desires and activities of disconnected individuals.

There are invisible barriers of varying density in nearly all industrial plants. Every industrial executive daily comes into contact with them. They constitute the formless, unorganized, intangible, yet exceedingly effective resistance to the introduction of improved methods. Every manager who has had anything to do with handling men and directing their work is obliged to pierce or tear down one or more of these invisible barriers before even the simplest and most obvious improvement can be successfully inaugurated. These barriers do not consist merely of common human inertia, nor of open opposition, nor of conflicting personalities, nor of fear and ignorance. They are rather a combination of all of these elements working in harmony with mass psychology and are the more formidable because invisible and intangible. Many an enthusiastic, well-informed manager full of good ideas and who knows what he wants to do and how he wants to do it has had a discouraging experience fighting this invisible spirit of opposition. John H. Van Deventer (1922)

“The foremen’s role and place in the social field were immediately problematic. During the 1848 reform of the employment tribunals, the members of the labor committee of the constituent assembly pondered the foremen’s status during electoral procedures: ‘The difficulty is to know what category foremen should be placed in—with the managers or with the workers? The committee rules that foremen shall vote with the managers because in most cases they are representatives of the managers’ interests.’”

This identification with the management was the foremost characteristic of the foreman: appointed by the managers, the foreman was their representative in supervising and organizing the workforce. However, the foreman’s ability to impose his authority did not depend on his social origins, because most foremen came from the working class. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, foremen were hardly distinguished from the rest of the workforce. Alain Becchia  (1875)

This representation of the foreman’s authority as a combination of authority, goodwill, and paternal spirit is well formulated in the “spinning manual”:

A good foreman is the workshop’s soul; the boss must turn to him. If there is a request or complaint to make, the workers must turn to him. . . . Here it is not a question of seeking the son of a prominent family or a man who is supported by important protectors; as much as possible, the choice must be a man who knows the field; who knows how to lead with dignity; who knows how to combine gentleness and strictness; who is energetic and affable; who defends the rights of the worker as well as those of the boss; who knows how, if required, to repair a loom when a spinner is not experienced enough to do it himself; who knows how to pass over certain minor errors and energetically repress the causes of unrest; in a word, a man who leads paternally and militarily. He must also know how to judge men and things with speed and energy. Sébastien Lambert (1866)

Among operating officials, the one closest to the actual productive process is the foreman, and upon him rests much of the responsibility for efficient operation, for economy, and for harmonious labor relations—factors vital to the business success of his employer. It is reasonable, therefore, that management should determine what qualities are essential for foremanship, and then spare no pains in finding or training foremen who have these qualities. Edward S. Cowdrick (1920)

Industrial engineers have charted the laborer, diagramed the manager and blue-printed the employment department, but the foreman too often has been left, unnoticed, to find his own place in the scheme of industrial relations. But if thus neglected in the planning of industrial organizations, the foreman has not been forgotten in the distribution of censure when things have not gone well. Upon his faults, real and imaginary, has been laid the blame for every failure, past and present.

He is assumed to be the Paleolithic representative of all that was wrong in the former era. He has been a conspicuous target for the uplifter and the professional investigator. Employers seeking to maintain harmony in their establishments in a time of almost unprecedented restlessness of labor; employees uncertainly experimenting with newly found rights and privileges; industrial experts eager for the success of their policies of administration—all have been quick to lay every discord and failure to the alleged tactlessness and stupidity of the foreman. Howard F. Gospel (1920)

The foreman is with us to stay. We could not eliminate him from industry if we would. His faults are largely those of his training and of the system under which he learned his trade. Intelligent cooperation between the foreman, his workmen and his employer will solve the problem of his true place in industry, and give him the real leadership demanded by the responsibilities of his position. L. P. Alford (1920)

If the nineteenth-century factory was an assemblage of buildings and machinery, it was also a complex social organization, encompassing hundreds, often thousands, of individuals. Yet it was a fragmented, decentralized organization, for the typical manufacturer entrusted most aspects of the day-to-day operation of the large manufacturing plant to the first-line supervisors and skilled workers. The exact implications of this practice differed among industries and shops, but one point is clear: the technicians, clerks, and other staff specialists -not to mention the union representatives -who dominate the present-day manufacturing plant were unknown in the late-nineteenth-century factory. By modern standards the foreman’s empire was a formidable realm. Charles Horton Cooley (1902)

When I find a better machine for doing an operation on our product I can usually succeed in ‘putting it across’ without a great deal of effort. When it comes to making a change in our production cost or time keeping system, however, it is a different matter, regardless of the obviousness of the improvement. It seems to me that nine-tenths or even more of the executive energy required to introduce improved management methods is dissipated against an invisible wall. H. H. Tukey (1922)

Early in our brass and copper mill work the importance of securing intensive supervision by floor foremen and straw bosses became evident. The lack of planning threw on to these sectional foremen almost the entire responsibility for movement of material, tool supplies, assignment of work, as well as general methods of processing. We soon discovered that no incentive plan would attain the objective of increased production unless it was so devised as to insure the fullest co-operation from these men. Philip Lawson (1922)

The more the problems of management are studied, the more apparent it becomes that their solution rests not upon the application of superficial remedies affecting only the less important interests of the workers but upon the introduction of drastic reforms in matters of vital consequence to the workers. It is useless also to attempt to improve the methods of foremen and gang bosses in handling men as long as the “drive” policy of management prevails in the shop. The “drive” system requires that the workers be cowed and made to fear the management. Considerate treatment of the men and good feeling between the men and the management are incompatible with the very essentials of the “drive” system. Sumner Slichter (1915)

So important is it that minor executives (foremen) be thoroughly competent, that one may safely predict that in the near future elaborate and rigorous training courses will exist for prospective minor executives in all large establishments, and that no one will be permitted to become a foreman or gang boss without first having been thoroughly trained for the duties of the position. John Commons (1916)

A man acquainted with foreign industrial and political affairs, who will spend three months in Washington meeting business men coming on war business to the national capital from all parts of the United States, would find it difficult not to conclude that American business men, all in all, are the most reactionary class of industrial rulers in the civilized world. They think labor unrest is not a movement at all. It is nothing but a ‘trouble.’ The very same thing that is shaking Russia and every country in Europe, shaking and remaking the world, thrusts a finger in their factories, and they see nothing but a ‘labor issue.’ To an astonishing number of them, the whole labor movement was invented by irrelevant agitators, now presumably always German. William Hard (1917)

All great movements of history and prehistory have been the products of unrest and man’s struggle to make or find an environment that better suits his nature and his needs. Today we are in the midst of a Copernican revolution in industry and are beginning to realize that it was made for the better development of man, and not conversely. It can never be stable until it fits human nature and needs.

But let me say at the outset that the nascent but inevitable advent of democracy into industry is not to be attained by any Bolshevik program of confiscation or nationalization of capital; nor by any form of government socialism, or by the French or any form of syndicalism; nor by any modernization of the medieval guilds; nor by any development yet in sight of the efficiency system, which has so far contributed almost as much to the discontent of labor as it has to the effectiveness of the organization; nor even by the full program of the Whitley reports.

Permanent and settled industrial peace and good-will can only be found in a full and unreserved cooperation between capital and labor, with some complete scheme of joint control and profit-sharing, involving more knowledge by the laborer of the business as a whole and more loyalty to it. This alone can bring harmony, avoid the excessive waste of friction, ill-will, soldiering on the job, labor turnovers, strikes, of which an official report a few months ago told us there were three hundred sixty-five, or one for every day of the year, on at that time in this country-and all the other wastage of energy from unemployment to sabotage. All these disorders which are so ominous for the business and economic future of this country and its supremacy in the markets of the world are, in a sense, of psychic origin, and the cure must be sought by a better knowledge and a wiser regimentation of the mind of labor. G. Stanley Hall (1920)

American organizations of all kinds have peculiarly lacked balance. In our national and State governments the mental type has predominated—lawyers; in our city governments the vital type has predominated—the glad-hand politician without ideals; in the railroads and other great businesses the motive type has predominated to the exclusion of ideals and of human sympathy. Congress and the Supreme Court and the President are viewed with distrust by the whole country because we, the workers, are being subjected to theories, to protection and to free trade theories, to the theory that big combinations and mergers are inimical to the public welfare.

Mr. McHenry, VP New Haven Railroad, in a recent letter to the Scientific American speaks for management. Anything more unbecoming than the tone of flippant sneering expressed in that letter could scarcely be imagined. The natural, and indeed inevitable, response to the attitude it expresses is mandatory legislation, forcing the road to take action in matters of track construction and train operation which will protect the lives of its passengers—measures obvious to any mind except that of a corporation officer, super-satisfied that no one outside his own circle could possibly suggest any useful knowledge. And the next and conclusive step is effective criminal prosecution, not of the unfortunate employee whose lapse precipitates disaster, but of the officials who create and maintain conditions in which lapse and disaster are inevitable. Charles Henderson (1916)

I have been at some pains to make it clear that the instinctive tendencies of man must often be supplemented, redirected and even reversed, and that, in the ordinary sense of the words, original nature is imperfect and untrustworthy. But in a certain important sense nature is right.

There is a warfare of man’s ideals with his original tendencies, but his ideals themselves came at some time from original yearnings in some man. Learning has to remake unlearned tendencies for the better, but the capacity to learn, too, is a part of his nature. Intelligence and reason are fit rulers of man’s instincts just because they are of the same flesh and blood.

The native impulses and cravings of man have to be tamed and enlightened by the customs, arts and sciences of civilized life, but every item of these arts and sciences was first created by forces within man’s own nature. Instincts may be trusted to form desirable habits only under a strong social pressure whereby the wants of one are accommodated to the wants of all, but the most elaborate and artificial moral training which a social group prescribes in its ideology is still ultimately an expression of man’s nature.

The impersonal wants, the cravings for truth, beauty and justice, the zeal for competence in workmanship, and the spirit of good-will toward men which are the highest objects of life for man seem far removed from his original proclivities. They are remote in the sense that the forces in -their favor have to work diligently and ingeniously in order to make them even partial aims for even a minority of men. But, in a deeper sense, they reside within man himself; and, apart from supernatural aids, the forces in their favor are simply all the good in all men.

Human nature, then, has for its core the substance of nature at large, and is one of its more complex formations. Its determination is progressive. It varies indefinitely in its historic manifestations and fades into what, as a matter of natural history, might no longer be termed human. At each moment it has its fixed and determined entelechy, the ideal of that being’s life, based on his instincts, summed up in his character, brought to a focus in his reflection, and shared by all who have attained or may inherit his organization His perceptive and reasoning faculties are parts of human nature, as embodied in him ; all objects of belief or desire, with all standards of justice and duty which he can possibly acknowledge are transcripts of it, conditioned by it, and justifiable only as expressions of its inherent tendencies. E. L. Thorndike (1913)

In the business world, as in all occupations involving human beings, to illustrate the need of selected habits and adaptive variability in a field too often overlooked, the manner in which men are treated largely determines the success of manager or foreman. Certain methods, called drive, have been acquired from the environment, education, or training, and they are followed. These managers know no other way.

Virtually all psychologists observe that business managers commonly miscalculate the mind of the worker in that they attribute his shortcomings and misbehavior to willful and deliberate perverseness. The repeated complaint made by management is that the faults, sins and inefficiencies of labor are the result of a pernicious act of will. The corresponding assumption is that labor ought to change its mind by an act of will, ought to see the reasonable way of behavior, and ought to revise its mental outlook as a matter of volition and self-control.

This common view held by management grossly overrates the element of detached and independent reason and grossly underrates the element of impulsive human nature. The faults and perversities of labor are due to natural causes, and certain pioneer managers have found that by changing the natural causes, they eliminate the faults and perversities, and substitute for them sound mental attitudes and efficient behavior.

Psychologists generally emphasize that the so-called faults of labor are due to unscientific methods of management which do not rightly encourage the “wholesome tendencies” of human nature nor “curb the pernicious tendencies.” In other words, psychology indicates that the responsibility for the misconduct of labor rests not with labor, but with management. Executives cannot shift the blame upon a perverse human nature on the part of the workers, for their human nature is as good as that of anybody else. The blame rests upon executives for not having developed methods of management which direct the human nature of the workers in the proper channels.

At the outset, therefore, psychology presents a strong challenge to management to accept the responsibility for reconstructing business practices so as to “help the better and repress the pernicious tendencies” of labor. But this challenge comes face to face with many traditional axioms of management and with a background and outlook which often are slow to change. A few pioneer business men here and there acquire the viewpoint of modem psychology and demonstrate in practical achievements what can be done. The rapidity with which the rank and file of executive management come to understand the mind of the worker in a manner similar to that of the pioneer managers determines the rate of industrial progress. Lionel E. Edie (1920)

There can be no doubt that, in the case of the larger industrial combinations, the belief on the part of the managers that a virtual monopoly could be secured was a powerful element toward bringing about their formation. The pride of power, and the pleasure which comes from the exercise of great power, are in themselves exceedingly attractive to strong men. As one with political aspirations will sacrifice much and take many risks for the sake of securing political preferment in order that he may in this way rule his fellows, so a successful organizer of business derives keen satisfaction from feeling that he alone is practically directing the destinies of a great people, so far as his one line of business is concerned.

Mr. Havemeyer said that his ambition was to refine the sugar of the American people. Mr. Gates asserted that it was the ambition of the organizers of the American Steel and Wire Company to control the wire output of the world. One cannot say that these ambitions are not as worthy as those of politicians, and as natural. No one can question that these elements of personal satisfaction and pride are most powerful factors in all lines of social intercourse, and this pride could not be gratified in business short of the belief on the part of these men that they can secure a practical monopoly. Walter E. Clark (1917)

Certain institutions have been found by experience to work better than others; i.e., they give more scope to the wholesome tendencies, and curb the pernicious tendencies. Such institutions have also a retroactive action upon those who live under them. Helping men to goodwill, self-restraint, intelligent cooperation, they form what we call a solid political character, temperate and law-abiding, preferring peaceful to violent means for the settlement of controversies.

Where, on the other hand, institutions have been ill-constructed, or too frequently changed to exert this educative influence, men make under them little progress toward a steady and harmonious life. To find the type of institutions best calculated to help the better and repress the pernicious tendencies is the task of the philosophic enquirer, who lays the foundations upon which the legislator builds.

A people through which good sense and self-control are widely diffused is itself the best philosopher and the best legislator, as is seen in the history of Rome and in that of England. It was to the sound judgment and practical quality in these two peoples that the excellence of their respective constitutions and systems of law was due, not that in either people wise men were exceptionally numerous, but that both were able to recognize wisdom when they saw it, and willingly followed the leaders who possessed its government, relapsed wearily after their failure into an acceptance of monarchy and turned its mind quite away from political questions.

More than a thousand years elapsed before this long sleep was broken. The modern world did not occupy itself seriously with the subject nor make any persistent efforts to win an ordered freedom till the sixteenth century. Before us in the twentieth a vast and tempting field stands open, a field ever widening as new States arise and old States pass into new phases of life. More workers are wanted in that field. Regarding the psychology of men in politics, the behaviour of crowds, the forms in which ambitions and greed appear, much that was said long ago by historians and moralists is familiar, and need not be, now, repeated. Arthur Stone Dewing (1920)

During the first three weeks of the application of the slide rules to two lathes, the one a 27 inch, the other a 24 inch, in the larger of these shops, the output of these was increased to such an extent that they quite unexpectedly ran out of work on two different occasions, the consequence being that the superintendent, who had previously worried a good deal about how to get the great amount of work on hand for these lathes out of the way, suddenly found himself confronted with a real difficulty in keeping them supplied with work.

But while the truth of this statement may appear quite incredible to a great many persons, to the writer himself, familiar and impressed as he has become with the great intricacy involved in the problem of determining the most economical way of running a machine tool, the application of a rigid mathematical solution to this problem as against the leaving it to the so-called practical judgment and experience of the operator, cannot otherwise result than in the exposure of the perfect folly of the latter method. Carl G. Barth (1899)

Organization is older than history. The earliest documents, such as the code of Hammurabi, show the evidences of many generations of systematized social life. The real pioneers are the unknown promoters of the Stone Age and the system-makers of the Bronze Age. Long ago almost every conceivable experiment in organization was first made. The records of history tell us of large units and small ones, of great and slight differentiation of functions, of extreme division and extreme concentration of authority, of mild and severe sanctions, of appeal to system and appeal to, passion, of trust in numbers and trust in leadership. Of the vast variety of units of organization through which human intelligence has worked, and through which human purposes have been achieved, or thwarted, the greater part has passed away; and the names of them, even, have been forgotten. In politics, the evolution has passed through the horde, the patriarchal family, the clan, and the classical city state.

Nations have tried despotisms, oligarchies and theocracies, absolute and constitutional monarchies, and republics. In military matters the phalanx gave way to the legion and cohort, and these, in turn, to the division, brigade, battalion, regiment, and company. Throughout history, the survival of the fittest, as between nations, has been fought out, in part, on the basis of the ability to use organized and co-operative methods of action. What a wealth of experience has been gained—and lost! How many times, in the long journey of history, have underlying administrative principles been, with enthusiasm, discovered, and rediscovered! And yet we seem to have accumulated but a small reserve stock of knowledge on this important subject.

We are still eagerly searching for the most elementary principles of administration. With countless generations of experience, in the conduct of affairs, behind us, the individual business executive of today is feverishly trying to broaden and intensify his personal experience—to live fast and hard—so that, in the short span of his life, he may discover de novo, for himself, the principles and policies required in the government of the complicated economic organizations of the present day. Since a knowledge of the principles of administration is now of so great importance, we should add to the agencies now being established, for the study of current performance, a provision for the systematic review of the history of administration.

An analogy exists between the present needs of the American business executive, into whose hands in a generation a great increase in power has come, and the needs of the German army officers before the development of that splendid system which made Germany the leading military power of the world. A hint may, therefore, be gained from their experience. The Prussian General Staff and War College were organized to gather all engineering, topographic, and other technical knowledge, which could be made of use in war. But, especially, there was entrusted to them the function of reviewing military history in a scientifically thorough manner, to obtain from it the maxims and principles which possess validity for future operations. In the hands of general historians, history is worth less for military guidance; but to Scharnhorst, von Clausewitz, von der Goltz, von Moltke, and the other students of the General Staff, is due the credit of having so sifted their facts, and so brought them to bear, in the criticism of principles, that they have made them a firm foundation for the scientific conduct of war.

Many men of affairs are much prejudiced against the invasion of business by science and theory. They conceive of these things as something new and untried, and something opposed to experience. A certain excuse for this view exists in the fact that the scientific method has, thus far since its discovery, been applied most prominently to facts which ordinary experience does not furnish, but which are attainable only through the somewhat rigid and refined methods of the laboratory. Many persons have concluded from this that the method cannot be applied to the facts of ordinary experience. Edward D. Jones (1912)

The scientific method is the analysis of problems into their elements; an extensive and thoroughly adequate collection of data; an exact and truthful classification of facts on the basis of their nature; such an arrangement and grouping of them as will best reveal agreements, differences, and concomitant variations between them; and the making of inferences, or the discovery of new facts, by means of induction, deduction, and analogy. The new truths, or inductions, are then subject to criticism and test in every possible way.

The scientific method calls for the eradication of prejudice which may interfere with the just estimate of any facts; and it requires open-mindedness, or willingness to receive new facts at any time, and to make such revisions in conclusions as may be required. This method is universal in its applicability. It can be set at work upon the organizations of which we find records in history, as well as upon the fossil remains of organisms in the earth’s strata. It can work upon data which are the product of the most haphazard, partial, or impassioned of experiences, as it can upon the exactly controlled processes of a laboratory experiment. The results obtained will, of course, depend upon the quality of the materials furnished to it, and upon the degree to which the material can be controlled to compel it to reveal its true nature fully and clearly.

It is now obvious that on such important matters as repairs on locomotives the Taylor plan is the most efficient for prevention of accidents. In our own experience, we have found that increasing productivity prevents accidents. In fact, we know that it is the one simplest and most efficient method of protecting the workers from injury and loss of life. Albert Spencer (1902)

A visit to the Tabor Manufacturing Co., the Link-Belt Co., and the J. M. Dodge Co. will convince anyone who looks the employees over, finds that the men are happier, healthier, better paid, and in better condition in every way than the men found in similar work in that vicinity. These places above named are among the shops where Scientific Management in its highest form has been in operation the longest time. Frank Galbraith (1907)

Directly or indirectly the instincts are the prime movers of all human activity; by the conative or impulsive force of some instinct (or of some habit derived from an instinct), every train of thought, however cold and passionless it may seem, is borne along toward its end, and every bodily activity is initiated and sustained. The instinctive impulses determine the ends of all activities and supply the driving power by which all mental activities are sustained; and all the complex intellectual apparatus of the most highly developed mind is but a means toward these ends, is but the instrument by which these impulses seek their satisfactions, while pleasure and pain do but serve to guide them in their choice of the means.

Take away these instinctive dispositions with their powerful impulses, and the organism would become incapable of activity of any kind; it would lie inert and motionless like a wonderful clockwork whose main-spring had been removed or a steam engine whose fires had been drawn. These impulses are the mental forces that maintain and shape all the life of individuals and societies, and in them we are confronted with the central mystery of life and mind and will.

In man, instinct is more universal and more powerful than reason; indeed, reason plays a relatively small part in the lives and activities of most men. The contrary opinion is due to our inveterate habit of acting instinctively and then attempting to explain to ourselves or to others the reason for the act. Indeed, mankind, as a whole, has but recently begun to emerge from a life of instinct to one of intelligence and reason. Some races and some individuals have gone farther in this direction than others, but with the great mass of mankind instinct is still the guide of life.

The principal instincts of all animals are those which concern safety, food, and reproduction; the most important social instincts have to do with the defense, welfare, and perpetuity of the group.

In addition to the general instincts the following more special ones have served to bind the higher mammals together in societies:

  • The instinct of service, especially between members of the same family or social group.
  • The fear of isolation or disapproval and the desire for fellowship, or sympathy.
  • The tendency to follow trusted leaders, but not to depart too far from precedents.

These are the integrating, coordinating, harmonizing bonds which unite men in societies. They are deep-seated instincts not easily overcome. The presence and power of these instincts in practically all peoples of the earth has been demonstrated in a most remarkable manner during the Great War. It is reassuring to find that the integrative instincts on which society is founded have not disappeared, and while these foundations remain let no one despair of the future of society.

On the other hand, among the higher mammals and especially among men there are disintegrative instincts or desires which tend to disrupt societies or at least to create disharmony. Among these are:

  • The desire for individual freedom, even when it conflicts with the welfare of society.
  • The tendency to limit social cooperation to groups or classes based upon family, racial, national; temperamental, environmental, industrial, intellectual, or religious homogeneity.

The incompleteness of integration, cooperation, and harmony in human society is due to the fact that imperfect intelligence and freedom have come in to interfere with instinct. Disharmony in ourselves and in society is the price we pay for personal intelligence and freedom. The more intelligence one has the greater is his freedom from purely instinctive responses, but man is never wholly free from the influences of instinct. The personal freedom which endangers human cooperation opens at the same time a path of progress along rational lines. In our individual behavior and in our social activities we now seek the ideal harmony of the hive, but on the higher plane of intelligence, freedom, and ethics.

The past evolution of man has occurred almost entirely without conscious human guidance; but with the appearance of intellect and the capacity of profiting by experience a new and great opportunity and responsibility has been given man of directing rationally and ethically his future evolution. More than anything else, that which distinguishes human society from that of other animals is just this ability, incomplete though it is, to control instincts and emotions by intelligence and reason.

Those who maintain that racial, national, and class antagonisms are inevitable because they are instinctive, and that wars can never cease because man is by nature a fighting animal, really deny that mankind can ever learn by experience; they look backward to the instinctive origins of society and not forward to its rational organization. We shall never cease to have instincts, but, unless they are balanced and controlled by reason, human society will revert to the level of the pack or herd or hive. The foundations of human society are laid in gregarious instincts, but upon these foundations human intelligence has erected that enormous structure which we call civilization. William McDougall (1918)

In recent weeks we have heard much about the efficiency of industrial democracy, of shop committees, of senate and house plans, of collective bargaining, as the panaceas for all labor problems. During the same period, we have had striking examples of the inadequacy of all these plans. Industrial democracy is a misnomer unless fairly and honestly applied. Collective bargaining is a great danger if wrongly applied and used as an instrument of autocratic power.

Labor problems have always existed and are likely to continue. There is no panacea, as industrial democracy, profit sharing, committee system, open shop, closed shop or collective bargaining. None of these agencies will accomplish or avail much unless there be behind them and disseminated through every fibre and thread, the spirit of fairness, honesty and justice. If these principles be present, there will be no labor trouble. And again, if they be present, it does not matter much what plan is used.

This accounts for many striking examples of the successful management of labor through each of the plans named. Because these successful examples can be pointed out is the reason for the confusion in the minds of many-whereas if a close analysis be made, it would be found that the wholesome conditions existing in each case were not due to the plan in vogue, but to the fact that the employer and the employee each, in turn, was a believer in, and a practitioner of, the cardinal virtues of honesty, fairness and justice.

The unfortunate thing is that many employees; many employers; many associations of employers; many labor organizations, have violated and ignored these principles. Through the utter disregard of the principles of honesty, fairness and justice, great damage has been done, and to quote, “Great powers have been used arbitrarily and autocratically, to exact unmerited profit or compensation by both capital and labor. This policy of exacting profit rather than rendering service has wasted enormous stores of human and natural resources, and has put in places of authority those who seek selfish advantage regardless of the interests of the community.”

The problem before the American public is to evolve those plans and to inaugurate those policies that will make such use of arbitrary and autocratic power a grave offense against the community and to make it impossible for any such arbitrary power to invoke its wrath against the will and against the welfare of the masses. Such plans should provide severe and sure punishment for the autocratic employer or autocratic labor leader who willfully violates the principles of honesty, fairness and justice, and by such violations brings hardships, despair and heartaches upon the masses. One is just as guilty as the other and we have had glaring examples of the evils of the financial trust and of the labor trust. Both are equally culpable and both should be dealt with in like manner.

Many of the abuses have grown up through ignorance of cause and effect. Poor management, incompetent supervision, excessive equipment, large inventories, poor equipment, inadequate sales policies and other causes have resulted in reduced income and a loss of net profits. Ignorance of the causes leads to a misinterpretation of the reason for the effects. In arriving at a solution, incompetency in management again shows itself; faulty analysis and incorrect conclusions follow. Wages are cut, demands increased, working conditions made less desirable; all of which is a disregard of the principles of honesty, fairness and justice. The result being strained relationships, strikes, bloodshed, and destruction of property no one permanently benefited.

Ignorance of cause and effect on the part of labor leads to many misinterpretations and faulty conclusions; such as to believe that to limit production is to benefit the worker; to decrease the length of the work-day is conducive to prosperity and the well-being of society and of labor; to oppose the training of the worker, to place all workers in a given trade on a par, regardless of capacity or ability, to demand compensation for which no adequate service has been rendered, to deny the right of individual choice of employment. These policies inevitably lead to reduction of production, increased cost, to suspicion, to the disregard of the rights of property, to the rights of individuals and to the rights of society.

It is the function and province of the industrial engineer to make correct analysis, to predict effects through known causes. It is purely the mission of the industrial engineer of wide experience, of great foresight and of unselfish motive to see to it:

  1. That every action is based upon the principles of honesty, fairness and justice to the employee, to the employer and to the public.
  2. To so formulate the plan of action as to eliminate all unfair privilege of employer and employee and to make it possible for each to fulfill its responsibilities to the community.
  3. To so organize the plant or industry as to make it exceedingly difficult for an incompetent to hold a position of authority or to exert autocratic control. W. Wallace (1916)

As a rule the average workingman has little interest in or knowledge of the broad questions of finance, how to secure credit, how to determine the best method of payment for the sales of the product, and so on. Thoughtful leaders of labor recognize this limitation and disapprove plans which place on the employee responsibilities of management beyond the matters already mentioned, matters, that is, in which they are directly interested and on which they are entirely competent to speak.

The workingmen are immediately interested in questions of wages, hours, housing, sanitary conditions in the shop, and in anything that tends to effect either their comfort or the productivity of their labor. They do not merely have an interest, but in many cases are entirely competent to speak with a high degree of real knowledge. It is a well-known fact that a large proportion of the inventions for the improvement of industrial processes have come from workmen who in their daily experience and by the cooperation of their fellows are able to obtain suggestions for devices that are likely to cut corners and lessen costs. If the workmen feel that they themselves are likely to benefit by improvements, improvements will be devised.

Through group action and discussion the employees gradually come to feel that they are a real and vital part of the institution and that the success of the whole institution depends on the way in which they do their work and the attitude which they display toward their work. Each employee has concrete evidence of the fact that he is a participant not only in the success of his concern when a dividend is not made, but that he has a definite channel of expression and may make suggestions tending to improve not only his own condition but that of his fellows.

As I see it, one of the obstacles is the fact that in many cases the local manager – who is not an owner of the business has not the authority to deal with employees as he knows they should be dealt with. Absentee management, like absentee landlordism, is evil. The present phase in which, to a very large extent, labor is antagonistic to capital and capital feels that it must regard labor as a sworn enemy, is counterproductive. John Hays Hammond (1921)

When men feel themselves under constraint, when they cannot determine and direct their actions, when they believe that their behavior is governed by forces beyond their control, when they have no voice in settling hours of work and compensation, the instinct of self-assertion revolts. This instinct is nature’s high explosive. It has destroyed monarchies. It is the essence of democracy. And it is also the fundamental cause of labor’s resistance to the present industrial system.

The issue, however, is often confused. The underlying radical impulse which ignites the spark of conflict is hidden in the conflagration that follows. The explosive ingredient of self-assertion is not easily identified as the unstable element in the usually peaceful compound of democracy. The individual himself, indeed, is usually unaware of these instinctive impulses. It is a well-known fact of psychology that a man first acts instinctively, and then finds reasons to justify his actions. And the reasons given are generally suggested by the exigencies of the moment. Occasionally, however, in more thoughtful moods, the fundamental impulse is revealed.

Human nature cannot be organized out of men not even by scientific management. There is always danger under mechanically efficient methods of increasing human costs to a degree that makes mechanical efficiency too expensive. We hear much today about overhead charges. It is now time that attention be given to inside-head expenses.

Managers have taken account of the various factors in production. They have analyzed and itemized the elements in the job. Under scientific management they find the right man, give him the right tools, and teach him to use them in the right way. They have omitted only one factor – human nature. Some day we shall learn that the fundamental element of efficiency is man himself, his instincts and emotions. An efficient organization will then be found to be one that builds upon these instincts and, instead of ignoring them, makes them allies in productive achievement.

Consider the lack of insight into human nature in the rule of one authority for speeding up. It is only through enforced standardization 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. That sort of cooperation does not interest workmen. The less initiative, judgment, responsibility, and intelligence a man has, the more readily will he fit into this enforced adaptation. Intelligence has the inconvenient habit of occasionally asserting itself. And this is unpleasant for those who claim a monopoly of this gift.

Enforced uniformity in methods of work-imitation routine, deaden the mind. In proportion as habits are acquired intelligence lapses. Initiative is lost, and the number of men fitted for positions of responsibility decreases. Business men are continually calling for young men of initiative. The manager for a large factory recently said that among his thousand employees he could not find men fitted for half a dozen subordinate chieftainships. The reason is that the employees had been trained to follow directions. Modern business has become abnormally centralized, and at the center stands the manager from whom all intelligence issues.

But this method denies a hereafter. And the present popularity of revolutions shows that starving the brains of workingmen is a terrible social menace. Efficient management would encourage initiative so as to give those of ability a chance to know themselves. It would make distinctions by finding them. Men do not object to being taught; they do not oppose being directed. But they always resist an uncooperative relationship, the advantages of which they think are weighted against them. This suspicion and the practical prohibition of initiative has greatly reduced the productive value of wage work. The resistance of employees to the present system of employer and worker, which has reached its culmination under unscientific “scientific management,” indicates a willful desire of wage-earners to be human beings.

To avoid social waste, to call into the service of the nation the instinct of workmanship, an industrial democracy is necessary. And it must be wholly frank and open. The workmen will accept nothing less. This is no time for “secret treaties.” Entertainments, lectures, and welfare organizations are of the greatest value. But they will not fulfill the demands of industrial reconstruction. Rather, they should be one expression of the principle of cooperation in a democracy. They do not buy bread nor pay rent. And the workers are conscious today of the economic side of labor.

Industrial democracy objectively and ingenuously carried out satisfies both the instinctive and economic needs. And it is not merely a theory. It has been successfully introduced into a few plants and the chief reason for its slow adoption is the inertia of the human mind-the unwillingness to break completely with the past, the adhesion to antiquated notions of business.

Human nature is much the same in all ranks of men, as well as in the old and young, and bonuses awaken interest in securing rewards rather than in improving the quality of the work. They do not arouse creative interest. Business men have found, just as teachers learned long ago, that rewards have only an artificial relation to production. They do not maintain an alert interest in achievement. Besides, rewards usually awaken suspicion. They suggest an ulterior purpose. And the workers are not unaware that the owners receive a rather generous proportion of the profits of the new economies and efficiencies.

Rewards are offered in factories for the same reason that led to their use in the schools. They are the easiest way of meeting a perplexing situation. It is characteristic of man, when confronted by a difficulty that must be overcome, to follow the line of least resistance instead of profoundly studying the problem. Educators have learned that young people will not work efficiently unless they appreciate the meaning and use of what they are doing and realize its value for themselves. This is as true of adults as of children. But employers, when compulsion failed, resorted to fictitious incentives instead of developing the creative interest in workmanship. Yet this interest is necessary if the work is to be done efficiently. And the workers must be convinced that the improved product of their interest will benefit themselves as well as their employers. Edgar James Swift (1919)

Looking to the future of industry, if we want to avoid constant difficulty, constant friction, constant unrest, it is necessary that we should take account of the intellectual ferment which is working in the minds of the industrial masses. I have been interested in observing the way in which the American employer is meeting the situation. What I find is that when he is dealing with material problems, the American employer is extraordinarily alert and scientific. He is far more on his toes – he has more “pep,” to use the American expression, than the British employer. But somehow, when he comes to deal with the human factor in industry, he seems to lose that wonderful slight-of-hand and scientific accuracy of action which marks him when he is dealing with administrative and material problems. He seems to me to descend altogether to a lower level.

He does not approach the human problems connected with industry with the same ability with which he approaches the material problems. I do not say that he is approaching them any less ably than we are in Britain; but whereas he is streets ahead of us in the way in which he administers his business and in the way in which he applies science to the solution of his material problems, I do not think that he is so far ahead of us in the way in which he is dealing with the human problems.

There is another kind of employer whom I regard as a great danger, whether you find him in America or in England, you can find him in both countries, and that is the short-sighted person who seeks to take advantage of the present economic and industrial situation in order to keep the worker in his place, as he expresses it-in order to get hold of the worker by the throat. He says: “During the war the worker was on top. Now I am on top and I am going to stay there as long as I possibly can.” That man is a revolutionary.

I find here, just as in England, an absence of that quiet, calm, patient, scientific inquiry into the whole industrial structure and into the causes of unrest which is the only real way of getting rid of unrest because it removes its causes. I believe that the right action for us employers is to examine the existing condition of industry on the assumption that industry continues on its present basis. A number of people are so dissatisfied with conditions in industry as they exist today that they are devoting the whole of their efforts to attempts to alter the system of industry-to replace the capitalist system by some other. The capitalist system of industry has always be abused by the capitalist.

The following statement of what, I think, may be regarded as the aims of industry has been written on the minutes of a board of directors in capitalistic industry in England, a board that is definitely trying to work toward the achievement of those aims.

  1. Industry should create goods or provide services of such kinds, and in such measure, as may be beneficial to the community.
  2. In the process of wealth production, industry should pay the greatest possible regard to the general welfare of the community, and pursue no policy detrimental to it.
  3. Industry should distribute the wealth produced in such a manner as will best serve the highest ends of the community.

I believe it is possible for men engaged in capitalist industry to work conscientiously and steadily toward achievement of these aims.

The most important item in this country is that we give the workers reasonable economic security. I have said that we employers have very little imagination. If we had imagination, we should have solved the problem of unemployment long ago. If we could visualize the suffering due to unemployment, the discouragement of mankind, the demoralization, the lowering of morale, we should have said long ago this evil must cease. But we regard the evil of unemployment with almost complete indifference.

Occasionally we flutter into a little interest in this subject when a great crisis occurs. There is a very slight interest in the matter in America just now because you have three or four or five million people unemployed. You do not even know within 50 per cent how many there are. You really do not know whether you have three or four or five million. The fact that there are no reliable unemployment statistics anywhere in the world is an indication that we do not actually regard the matter very seriously.

As regards the status of the worker, I see just the same thing here that we find in England, that the worker resents the continuance of that condition in which he is regarded as a servant to obey the orders of the “master.” We talk about master and man. Why master? We have always talked about masters and men, when we don’t call them “hands.” But why master? B. Seebohm Rowntree (1921)

Politicians fear the votes of a great number of workers who honestly believe that the sum total of “working opportunity,” as they call it, is fixed and constant, and that to make one man more efficient and thus cause him to be able to do two men’s work is simply displacing one more man to be added to the great army of the unemployed.

The fact that this may be so this week blinds them to the fact that Scientific Management will quickly bring lasting benefits to them in the immediate future. Improvements have come and are coming. Nothing can resist them permanently. It is however, a national, yes, a world calamity, that there are so many against any plan for saving labor.

No friend of the working men can do his fellow man so much good as to teach the truth about the benefits to the workmen from increased outputs, for increased outputs are the one thing, or condition, that will permit raising wages permanently and reducing production costs permanently. Sidney Webb (1909)

The reason why the instinctive nature of workers so often leads to industrial disorders is because certain of their most powerful instincts are thwarted by their industrial environment. When the instinct of workmanship is suppressed through monotonous and haphazard working conditions; when the instinct of self-assertiveness is denied expression because of arbitrary methods of management; when the herd instinct is threatened by plans for undermining the unity of groups of workers; and when other instincts are balked in similar ways, the basic psychological energies of the worker are thwarted. The results are found in unrest, restriction of production, ill-will, radicalism, inefficiency, unhappiness and disloyalty. These are the outlets for the energies within balked instincts.

Business executives who have applied psychological principles to the solution of such problems have found that the repression of the basic instincts of the workers is not only unnecessary but is one of the most costly, blind and dangerous phenomena of present day industry. All of these instinctive energies are capable of either good or bad expression, and if the good expression is not provided for in the day’s work, the bad expression is the natural alternative. Balked instincts insure pugnacity, uneasiness, discontent, strikes, agitation, sabotage and the whole retinue of industrial disorders.

The instincts and their emotions, coupled with the obedient body, lay down in scientific and exact description the motives which must and will determine human conduct. If a physical environment set itself against the expression of these instinct motives, the human organism is fully and efficiently prepared for a tenacious and destructive revolt against this environment; and if the antagonism persist, the organism is ready to destroy itself and disappear as a species if it fail of a psychical mutation which would make the perverted order endurable.

If one leaves the strata of unskilled labor and investigates the higher economic classes, he finds parallel conditions. There is a profound unrest and strong migratory tendency among department-store employees. One New York store with less than three thousand employees has thirteen thousand pass through its employ in a year. Since the establishment in American life of big business with its extensive efficiency systems, its order and dehumanized discipline, its caste system, as it were, there has developed among its highly paid men a persistent unrest, a dissatisfaction and decay of morale which is so noticeable and costly that it has received repeated attention . Even the conventional competitive efficiency of American business is in grave question. I suggest that this unrest is a true psychosis, a definite mental unbalance, an efficiency psychosis, as it were, and has its definite psychic antecedents and that our present moralizing and guess-solutions are both hopeless and ludicrous. Carleton H. Parker (1920)

We do not have to theorize as to what a modern plant and its management should stand for. The facts are ready to hand. Here and there throughout the country, examples of sound and successful practice in industrial relations within a plant can be observed with profit to the observer. And the number of such examples is growing day by day.

Take two such well-known instances of organized right relations as the system followed by Hart, Schaffner and Marx and the International Harvester Company. In the former case, there has been peace and profitable production for years in spite of conditions in the garment industry which constantly work against stability. In the second instance, the Harvester people, after a long and well-prepared campaign, recently put into operation a plan for industrial representation of its employees among the twenty plants based on the most enlightened principles of labor relationships.

The truth is that managers and men have, in reality, a common goal before them. But they have been at odds as to the best way of reaching that goal. And because they have been differing in this way, they have naturally lost sight of the big fact that it was a common goal which both were really seeking. What is that goal? It is to get the maximum satisfaction and return from the work. Anxiety, uncertainty, discontent – these things are the chief foes of fitness. Efficiency, we must remind ourselves over and over again, is more of a psychological than it is a mechanical result.

The management which recognizes this axiom holds the key to unlimited success. Where work is sheer monotony and nothing is done to offset it, where surroundings pull down health and strength, or where relationships are such that no man feels that he has any stake in the plant and that the scrap-heap is ahead of him so far as any concern on the part of the management is felt; in all these circumstances we have the fertile soil for ill will and poor work. Management has sometimes lost sight of the goal which it has in common with labor. It has been blinded perhaps by a narrow point of view, a rigid devotion to rule of thumb, and indifference to the greatest factor in production the human factor. There can be no real organization here.

Income without satisfaction in work means labor instability, unrest and lowered output. And satisfaction in work is hardly possible without recognition by management of the human elements involved. Like all other human beings, the worker is a bundle of instincts. He wants to create, to possess, to gain power, to have his work and merit properly recognized, to play, to protect himself and his own. He wants to learn new things, to vary his occupation so that it does not get on his nerves. He wants the satisfactions which make life worth living.

Many people have to learn, and not a few do so only after very costly and bitter experience, that it is better to be genuine than spectacular. Workers are never deceived by make believe industrial relation schemes. They reward all insincerity with lasting contempt, disguised though it may be. A. Lincoln Filene (1919)

There is a preponderance of managers who are thoroughly autocratic in mental attitude and who would resort to extreme measures of discipline if the workers could not be content with crystallized relations and were insistent in their strivings to express a desire for change; and there is a compensating fringe of workers who demand radical changes in the social and industrial structure and strive, some of them destructively, to achieve their ideals; but neither of these represent the great directive force in industry.

They are a profound influence in making others take thought, but the actual course of step-by-step industrial development will be determined by cooperation of the moderate workers, the latter asking for progressive improvement and the former desirous to assume leadership in finding the improvement that is really mutually progressive. The demand for improvement by the great body of moderate workers constitutes a challenge to management; a challenge to display vision, initiative and leadership.

It is not abnormal for the average manager to meet this challenge with reluctance. It is normal for him to simplify his problem and, if he has once constructed a formula for securing production under more or less familiar conditions, to hesitate to attack the problem of working out new production formulas involving, to him, new variables. It is much easier and presents apparently less risk for him to ask that all concerned work harder individually in accordance with present formulas, and thereby secure the needed production.

There is no question but that greater individual physical effort is possible and that it would secure greater production. But it is just as normal and reasonable for the individual worker to meet that challenge with greater reluctance than the manager meets the other challenge, especially if the individual believes that the problem can be met by better management. He feels that it is the function of management not to work out a status quo in production methods but to strive for increasing efficient methods increasingly efficient because of better coordinations and not because of greater individual exertion. Harlow S. Persons (1916)

Sooner or later in the production game we are brought up with a round turn against the worker’s frank, sometimes brutal question, “Produce? Turn out more work? Why should I? What’s the use? If I work more I simply work myself out of a job or line the bosses’ pockets”; or, “I have got enough anyhow; I don’t need to work anymore.” This gets down to bed-rock. Why, after all, should men produce? Is there any virtue in producing for production’s sake? Of what value is it, once you get away from certain fundamental articles of food, clothing and shelter, to make more units of a certain kind of stuff? I am frank to say that if I were a worker, turning out some of the cheap gimcrackery that is made just to sell or play with, and which fits no fundamental human need, I should answer that the only reason which would lead me to produce would be to get more for myself.

I am equally frank to say that I can see no way of getting over to the workers the full stimulus to production until they are convinced that the world is suffering from a lack of production of certain basic commodities, and that they, as partners in industry, are responsible for furnishing those commodities. Sidney Hillman told the City Club of Rochester a short while ago that “to get production, not only for one year, but for always, the worker must have a feeling that he has a citizenship in industry as well as in the political state.”

That is to say, the worker must understand that in reality and in truth he is a responsible citizen who is charged with helping to fulfill some great fundamental demand of the people; or, to put it in another way, that he is helping industry to perform a public service. That is, citizenship in industry means not just voting one’s self more pay, not just receiving certain benefits through collective action; it means responsibility and some measure of self-determination and self-expression. No technical arrangement of business nor juggling with piecework or weekwork or production standards or bonus systems will get anywhere in the long run unless this fundamental question of creative responsibility is first answered. Failing that satisfactory answer, pressure for output on highly specialized and subdivided lines may defeat itself. Speed competition teams may succeed for a time; but permanent success can only come if the workers understand the point of this speed, if they are taken into confidence in production plans, if instead of standing baffled before meaningless production “they are made conscious participators in the creative process.” Arthur J. Todd (1920)

We are getting into a new age now, one in which the profiteer is in disgrace, and the man who produces the goods is the man who counts. It has never occurred to me that the new age would be any dictatorship of the incompetent and in which the organizers and executives of industry would have no place. But it will be a world for the workers, a world in which mere possession will no longer rule, a world which will yield honor not to those who have but to those who serve. And the best soldier of the common good is not necessarily the one who performs the most brilliant individual exploit. He is the one who goes furthest in inspiring the whole gang to do its best.

Industry is not an army. You can’t reach your objectives by simply giving the right orders. You can’t get anywhere by attempting to train your workers to jump at the word of command. Industry is constructive, creative. In order to get results you must depend on the individual initiative of every unit in the organization. You must appeal to their creative instincts. No boss who tries merely to drive his men is worth a damn.

I know something about making steel, but I don’t know anywhere near as much as the millions of steel workers know. No one man can know as much as the crowd knows. No one can do as much as the crowd can do. The real leader is not the man who substitutes his own will and his own brain for the will and intelligence of the crowd but the one who releases the energies within the crowd so that the will of the crowd can be expressed. Charles W. Wood (1918)

A large part of traditional industrial relations has been built upon the supposition that labor is naturally lazy, and instinctively hates work. Psychology points out that what ordinarily appears to be laziness arises from the fact that measures have never been taken to appeal to the instinct of workmanship.

Pride in work, satisfaction in work, creativeness in work are deep human realities when the conditions of work are properly adapted to the human organism. When working conditions, or methods of management are such as to cause the creative instinct to atrophy, workers become indifferent to their work, and often hate it. When working conditions and methods of management are such as to stimulate and satisfy the creative instinct, workers take a genuine interest in their work. The creative instinct takes rank with the possessive instinct in its force and energy. Business executives who manage men on the assumption that all they work for is money leave untapped the rich resources of productive energy contained in the normal man’s instinct of workmanship. The worker is a man of more than one motive, and that the money motive. He is capable of craftsmanship, and his nature fundamentally longs for the satisfactions of interesting workmanship. Psychology attempts to aid the business man in discovering the means of arousing and organizing the creative energies of human beings. Irving Fisher (1919)

The ultimate problem of all industrial management is to make some man want to do something as it should be done, and that this is a problem in psychical forces, of which as yet we know very little, to express. Let us hope that at some time Mechanical Engineers, recognizing that industrial management is essentially a question of the relations of men, who are psychical beings, may attack the art of management as a problem in psychology and try to discover and define the psychological principles and laws involved.

As all engineers know, autocratic industry kills incentive. It punishes brilliancy of attainment. It warps the mind and drains the energy from the body. We have repeatedly condemned the principle of autocratic control of industry, and we now declare that short of its complete removal from our industrial life there is no industrial salvation and no hope of abundance in our time. We point out to employers the fact that industry, which is the life blood of our civilization, cannot be made the plaything and the pawn of a few who by chance today hold control. Industry is the thing by which all must live, and it must be given the opportunity to function at its best. Norman Dorn (1906)

President Eliot of Harvard once spoke in Boston on the joy of work. The next week a labor leader in the same hall spoke with a scornful laugh of the “high brow’s” reference to such “joy” and the crowd of workingmen present approvingly joined in his ridicule. This incident is pathetic evidence that joy of work is too often conspicuous by its absence. When I first became conscious of this fact, I was loath to publish my opinions. There is a knowledge of industry among the workers in industry of which society has not begun to avail itself. The effort has been to suppress use of that knowledge and to demean those who possess it. The workers know their work as none but the workers can know it.

Text-books of economics today make the statement that the motive for work is money-making, with the exception that artists and scientists work for the joy that their work gives them. There is no greater fallacy than to make this contrast. The workman has this same power, though latent, of enjoying self-expression in his work. Our usual acceptance of this fallacy shows how far we are off the track. Ordway Tead (1920)

The real problem is no longer whether it is possible to return to medieval craftsmanship, but the detailed problem of how far and in what manner we can reap the fullest advantage of modern machinery, while avoiding its evils. And this full human control of machinery for human ends can only be gained when the science of the relation between man and machine is fully developed. We can only control what we understand and it has been the blind wastes and inefficiencies of the past that have given rise to most of the evils that the workers deplore.

The workers ask what are the ends which we are serving? When we speak of Production, they ask, “Production of what?” “Production of things or of men? Of goods or of human well-being and happiness?” It has been said to me over and over again, “There are things more important than mere production, and one of these is human personality.” The criticism by these educated men of our emphasis on production is not on the fallacious ground of “over-production,”- a fallacy they understood as well as ourselves; it is on moral and social grounds. They over-ride the artificial barriers which the sophisticated erect between economic, psychological and ethical questions, and ask that we shall view industrial processes in their proper relation to the full needs of human nature. They have even pointed out to me that our science is incomplete unless it deals with the wide social effects of technical processes. They do not deny the need for production, but demand some social guidance of that purpose in relation to moral ends. Moreover, they are seeking to find in their daily occupation a true vocation – one which shall develop them further in their manhood and employ the balance of powers of mind and body. S. S. Brierley (1920)

The personal relationship which existed in bygone days is essential to the development of this new spirit. It must be reestablished; if not in its original form, at least as nearly so as possible. In the early days of the development of industry, the employer and capital investor were frequently one. Daily contact was had between him and his employees, who were his friends and neighbors. Any questions which arose on either side were taken up at once and readily adjusted.

A feeling of genuine friendliness, mutual confidence and stimulating interest in the common enterprise was the result. How different is the situation today. Because of the proportions which modern industry has attained, employers and employees are too often strangers to each other. Personal contact, so vital to the success of any enterprise, is practically unknown, and naturally, misunderstanding, suspicion, distrust and too often hatred have developed, bringing in their train all the industrial ills which have become far too common. Where men are strangers and have no points of contact, this is the usual outcome. On the other hand, where men meet frequently about a table, rub elbows, exchange views and discuss matters of common interest, almost invariably it happens that the vast majority of their differences quickly disappear and friendly relations are established. Much of the strife and bitterness in industrial relations results from lack of ability or willingness on the part of both labor and capital to view their common problems each from the other’s point of view.

A man who recently devoted some months to studying the industrial problem and who came in contact with thousands of workmen in various industries throughout the country has said that it was obvious to him from the outset that the working men were seeking for something, which at first he thought to be higher wages. As his touch with them extended, he came to the conclusion, however, that not higher wages but recognition as men was what they really sought. What joy can there be in life, what interest can a man take in his work, what enthusiasm can be expected to develop on behalf of his employer, when he is regarded as a number on a payroll, a cog in the wheel, a mere “hand.” Who would not earnestly seek to gain recognition of his manhood and the right to be heard and treated as a human being and not as a machine?

While obviously under present conditions those who invest their capital in an industry, often numbered by the thousand; cannot have personal acquaintance with the thousands and tens of thousands of those who invest their labor, contact between these two parties in interest can and must be established, if not directly/then through their respective representatives The resumption of such personal relations through frequent conference and current meetings, held for the consideration of matters of common interest such as terms of employment, and working and living conditions, is essential in order to restore a spirit of mutual confidence, good-will and cooperation. Personal relations can be revived under modern conditions only through the adequate representation of the employees. Representation is a principle which is fundamentally just and vital to the successful conduct of industry. This is the principle upon which the democratic government of our country is founded. On the battlefields of France this nation poured out its blood freely in order that democracy might be maintained at home and that its beneficent institutions might become available in other lands as well. Surely it is not consistent for us as Americans to demand democracy in government and practice autocracy in industry.

It is not for this or any other body to undertake to determine for industry at large what form representation shall take. Once having adopted the principle of representation, it is obviously wise that the method to be employed should be left in each specific instance to be determined by the parties in interest. If there is to be peace and good-will between the several parties in industry, it will surely not be brought about by the enforcement upon unwilling groups of a method which in their judgment is not adapted to their peculiar needs. In this, as in all else, persuasion is an essential element in bringing about conviction. With the developments in industry what they are today there is sure to come a progressive evolution from autocratic single control, whether by capital, labor, or the state, to democratic cooperative control by all three. The whole movement is evolutionary. That which is fundamental is the idea of representation, and that idea must find expression in those forms which will serve it best, with conditions, forces, and times, what they are. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1919)

The multitude of causes making for the general dissatisfaction prevailing among workers which is called industrial unrest may be compressed under three heads:

  1. Dissatisfaction with their wages, hours, and earnings-a feeling on the part of the workers that they are not receiving a fair share of the product of industry; a widespread belief that workers are being exploited by owners, employers, and their managers. The rapid rise in prices has greatly strengthened this belief even among those workers who have secured wage increases in excess of increases in the cost of living. Many thousands of workmen who have profited greatly by the price upheavals of the war period firmly believe they are worse off than before the war, or, at least, that the employers have gained more than the workmen and hence the workmen are being done by the employers.
  2. Dissatisfaction with the management of industry-a feeling that not only are the workers being exploited but that the “enterprisers” are not as enterprising and their managers not as capable as has been commonly supposed. Work is made needlessly monotonous and uninteresting and production is thereby curtailed. The workers feel that industries are being conducted from a distance by men who have little or no first-hand knowledge of conditions and who do not understand the workers’ point of view, knowledge, and capacity. These grievances are due, in large part, to big business organization which has brought about what may justly be called “absentee landlordism” in industry.
  3. Dissatisfaction with the nature of their work- a feeling that industry is a treadmill for workers of all kinds and that the opportunities for successful and permanent escape are scarce and growing scarcer every day. Lack of interest in work grows out of absentee ownership. The absent industrial landlords, interested only in dividends, employed experts, scientific managers, to produce a substitute for the old-time workman’s interest in his work. Royal Meeker (1920)

From the moment in which workers and employer negotiate and agree upon terms, hours, conditions and wages, the principle of autocratic domination gives way to the principle of democratic operation. That is the vital point in the whole question of labor relations and it is precisely that point that arbitrary and reactionary employers fear to pass. King John before them struggled over the same principle. King George the First struggled over the same principle. The late Czar and the ex-Kaiser did likewise. Every great force that has stood against this principle has, in the great hour of decision, been compelled to give way.

The reason employers in some instances put forth such violent opposition to organized labor is that it involves the change from autocratic control to democratic control. The basis of calculation is changed. And if employers were not in some instances shortsighted the change would be accepted unanimously and gladly as a benefit to industry and to mankind in general.

Only careful surveys by competent engineers could reveal the staggering losses to industry caused by arbitrary rule. There have been estimates of the colossal losses suffered each year by the steel trust because of its refusal to adopt enlightened employment policies, including negotiating with organized workers, but only a detailed examination and the most careful comparison could reveal anything approaching the real loss. Some employers cannot believe that the workers have motives unlike their own. Let those employers find out the production loss caused each year by autocratic control of industry. The nation pays the bill for this obstinacy in a definite loss of consumable commodities. Samuel Gompers (1920)

The congestion of population is producing subnormal conditions of life. The vast repetitive operations are dulling the human mind. The intermittency of employment due to the bad coordination of industry, the great waves of unemployment in the ebb and flow of economic tides, the ever-present industrial conflicts by strike and lockout, produce infinite wastes and great suffering. Our business enterprises have become so large and complex that the old, pleasant relationship between employer and employee has, to a great extent, disappeared. The aggregation of great wealth with its power for economic domination presents social and economic ills which we are constantly struggling to remedy.

We must take account of the tendencies of our present repetitive industries to eliminate the creative instinct in their workers, to narrow their field of craftsmanship, to discard entirely the contribution to industry that could be had from their minds. Indeed, if we are to secure the development of our people we cannot permit the dulling of these sensibilities.  If we are to secure increased production and an increased standard of living, we must keep awake interest in creation in craftsmanship and contribution of the worker’s intelligence to management. Herbert C. Hoover (1920)

 

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