The Library of Social Behavior

Excerpts of Plan A history

Setting the Stage

Before the industrial revolution commenced in Britain around 1770, Plan A and Plan B were the same Plan for social living. When the industrial revolution age began in the USA, circa 1865, the Jeffersonian ideal way of life was mainstream and still Plan A/B.

Naturally, the people of the British Empire were the first to recognize the inhumanity of Plan A in the industrial age. Recording the wreckage began with John Locke. The people that documented the new war against the working class had been brought up in the Plan A/B society and, by contrast with what was going on about them, were well aware of the consequences of Plan A. The first industrialist to recognize the tyranny of Plan A for what it was was Robert Owen of Wales. On his own, he established Plan B conditions in his Welsh textile mills, displacing Plan A, and by 1795 had become very rich because of 16X.

While everyone was keenly aware of the various consequences of Plan A from big industry, no one emulated the Robert Owens cash-cow “miracle.” In the USA, the first parallel to Robert Owens was William Patterson, founder of NCR in Dayton, OH. He also became rich from displacing Plan A with a Plan B facsimile. Like Owen, Patterson invited everyone to see and emulate the NCR 16X miracle in productivity. In 1895, 30,000 people came to Dayton to audition the NCR factory complex. The open-door transparency scenario was repeated, intact, in NYC by the Remington typewriter company in 1908. Echoing the Owen experience, no one of the multitudes ever followed up.

The first wave of the heroes for fixing Plan A all grew up under Plan A/B conditions in unindustrialized society and that social system design was the benchmark for their evaluation of Plan A consequences. By 1925, the original wave of heroes for fixing Plan A had passed on. Since no one was left with personal experience under Plan B, the negative documentation about Establishment tyranny over the working class disappeared from the libraries.

The next imperial Establishment phase was awarding the issue to the care of academia. That stroke ended hope for remedy. With no one experiencing the contrast between Plan A and Plan B, socialization stuck with Plan A. In one generation, socialization established that there was only Plan A in Nature’s wheelhouse, infallible, and therefore a Plan B couldn’t exist. Undiscussable. Death to the heretics.

By the beginning of the 21st century, all serious work to fix Plan A dysfunction had stopped. Our mentors had passed on, miserable that their work did not deliver the fix. Plan A, unchallenged by a Plan B, is the de facto organizational plan to this day. In 2013, the capability to transmute a Plan A organization to Plan B prosperity and sustain it was implemented and validated.

Rather than living in Plan B and being overrun by Plan A, measuring the contrast in social dynamics, we now have the paradigm for establishing a Plan B to contrast with Plan A. Yes, the contrast, 16X, is identical. That reinforces the “system” concept that networks individual minds into a society. You want to fix system dysfunction? Forget the material components: fix the psychological miscarriages of rationale.

With living Plan Bs now available for reference, the benchmark for comparing Plan A to Plan B, first implemented by Robert Owen, has been restored. The proof being that, thanks to the invariance of human nature, the X16 response experienced by Robert Owen is the exactly the one we experience today. Rejecting the ascertainable facts, without evidence-gathering, does not refute the theory.

Plan A v Plan B

The advent of the OD fix in 2013 has considerably widened the sociotechnological spectrum – which is one reason why the website was produced.

The document excerpts are arbitrarily categorized:

  1. Awareness of organizational dysfunction, symptoms and consequences
  2. Insights about OD characteristics, properties and causes
  3. Suspicions of head shed ascertainable-fact-intolerance, especially about lessons-learned and successes
  4. Foremanship awareness
  5. Odds and Ends

Nothing is so easy as to find fault with human institutions and nothing is so difficult as to suggest practical improvements. Condorcet and Godwin (1785)

Visiting the range in system dynamics will either spark your spirit of adventure or turn you off. It is for your sake that this prequalification exercise is done up front. To not choose the learning path is to choose. Thereafter, Nature makes the choices for you and then punishes you for executing the choice She made.

There is no lack of content from our predecessors, mentors, and heroes. The accumulated library on this topic, available in .pdf to anyone who asks, is already several hundred thousand searchable pages.

The MitM centerpiece in the Great Divide


Before you get into the history, equip yourself with some navigational aids. There are two languages regarding organizational dynamics. Their juxtaposition is called “The Great Divide.”

  1. Conceptual, abstract, opinion, imagination, illusion, passion, intuition. These confections of the unconscious mind are herein called “Delusion-speak,” shorthand for fixed, false beliefs. It is the realm of the unimplemented, the untested, doublespeak, and GIGO. While all delusion-speak carries the same validity, it is socially competitive. Since all conflicts and debates end in stalemate, my untested delusion has equal rank with your untested delusion, this language is extremely popular in social media. Since delusion-speak has no social binding force of its own, it relies on groupthink and its self-anointed infallibility to keep delusions in the game,
  2. Application in the indifferent, brutish operational reality. The construction and physical installation that only can come from conscious minds, system-think, is called “Implementation-speak.” Based on ground truth and evidence, this language delivers a monster social binding force. With everyone in close proximity to social-benefit reality and each other, there is no basis for conceptual conflict or groupthink. Where leader and led together and bound in one destiny, goal-seeking success is assured.

For delusion-speak, refer to the pharaonic dynasty and it’s ever-changing delusions of gods and immortality. For implementation-speak, refer to the pharaonic dynasty that built the pyramids to implement the prevailing delusion of immortality for the pharaoh. No, supernatural forces did not quarry the blocks or drag them up the ramps and put them in place. The first on-site structure at Giza? The largest brewery that had ever been built. You don’t sustain the workforce flesh on delusion. The tap water kills anything that drinks it.

As you peruse the essays, excerpts and quotes, characterize the language being used. Since mixtures are impossible, it’s one or the other. Concepts are the design basis for implementation, of course, but delusion-speak still. Notice also that the excerpts in implementation-speak never refer to their philosophical basis. The authors in delusion-speak avoid implementation of their hypotheses of remedy like the plague.

Keeping the languages apart, one on each side of the great divide, home base to the MitM, will prevent making errors caught up in the absurd logic of system think.

Implementation Requires the Conscious Mind to be “On”

Plan A awareness

How could these institutional norms carry fire and sword round half the world? There must be a defect in my understanding. Charles Darwin (1862)

Being persuaded that the social organization which produces results so pernicious and demoralizing – which acts so injuriously upon the interests, and violates so flagrantly the most valuable rights, of those engaged in the useful, necessary and honorable occupation of manual labor, is founded in neither justice nor reason; is required by no essential law of human association, far less can be sanctioned by any providence of God; and assuming as self-evident that the cruel hardships to which the laboring classes are subjected, are continued only through the indifference, ignorance and lethargy of themselves; that the remedy for these abuses is apparent and simple, and is to be found in a general and thorough organization of the laboring classes, for the purpose of defending their interests and securing to their own enjoyment the constant wealth which their own honest and honorable industry produces, with a view to the attainment of these objects.

This kind of game has been played upon the industrious portion of the population all over the country, and it now behooves the mechanics to unite, as one man, if they ever expect to obtain a redress of grievances. It is the only way, in our opinion, by which the humble artisan can obtain money or its equivalent for his toil. No other method can be adopted to frustrate the disposition of the avaricious few to grind down the honest laborer and force him to toil for a compensation that will barely furnish bread and water. Men, men -patriotic, hard-toiling freemen, have been trampled and crushed beneath the feet of soulless and grasping speculators, until they have grown desperate at the indignities and impositions heaped upon them. They find that, in order to preserve themselves and their children from sinking beneath the grade of the serfs and boors of Europe, they must throw off all seeming meekness and boldly confront those capitalists who would make a ten-fold profit from their labor.

Having thus given the outlines of the matter at issue, we will leave the decision with the public. The unprejudiced cannot fail to see which scale should preponderate. We will leave the case of the journeymen and their employers, with those who really regard the happiness of all, as essentially necessary for the preservation of true and sound liberty. In this struggle, we behold the employer assuming to himself, that which he would justly and strenuously resist in others; he would not abandon the position that he and he alone, has the right of putting a price on the article which he offers for sale to the consumer. Yet, strange contradiction and willful injustice, this same employer arrogates to himself the privilege of dictating to the real producer the price of which the said employer’s avarice shall be the graduator. Stephen Brundidge (1825)

It is an open secret that with a reasonably free hand, the production experts would today readily increase the ordinary output of industry by several fold of the current output. And what stands in the way of so increasing the ordinary output of goods and services is business as usual. Thorstein Veblen 1925

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)

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1841)

I have often heard the idea expressed by management that hard times with universal scarcity of work should be welcomed as a means of making labor reasonable. Which means, in the language of the average work shop, “forcing labor to its knees!” said the manufacturer with some emotion. Well, my friend, it is impossible for me to take so low a view of human nature as to believe that heads of industrial enterprises cherish that idea, although unfortunately most do. But whatever may be said of the idea in a moral sense, and for my part I can conceive of nothing more despicable, it is certainly based upon a false economic concept. What the world most needs is efficient production, and labor cannot be efficient and be periodically starved either with premeditation on the part of individuals having the required power or through underlying disturbances of industry for which no one can be held accountable. Harrison Emerson (1921)

North Americans have had little trouble living with each other as citizens during the recent centuries. Since the industrial revolution geared up, in exception, there has been scant and fleeting success in living with each other as employer and employee. Clearly the same man has a very different status regarding the state from what he has regarding the organization. As a citizen, he has a good measure of freedom of speech. He can criticize those in authority with impunity and take every opportunity to do so. He has a voice through the ballot box, in the selection of those who are to govern him, and he can exert his influence upon them by this power after they are selected. He has a constitution and a definite code of laws which state in no uncertain terms just what he can do and what he must do. Should he be accused of violating those regulations, he has the right to a hearing in the form of a trial by a jury of his equals.

Evaluate the same aspects in industry. The wisdom gained by bitter experience orders that if he wishes to exercise his right of free speech, he will do so where it will not be heard by anyone else, fellow worker or employer, if what he says can be construed as unfavorable to the management. He has no voice in in the matter of who is to be his supervisor nor has he power to change or correct the supervision if he finds it incompetent, counterproductive or unjust. He has no Bill of Rights as an employee and no adequate idea as to exactly where his duties and responsibilities begin and end. He does not know the full extent of his privileges and perquisites. When he is suspected of failing to meet the nebulous rules and regulations of the organization, he is faced with the charges by a man who is at the same time his accuser, his prosecutor, his jury, and his executioner.

If this paradox, the discrepancy between the worker and the citizen, was imposed on us by law, rather than by custom, we would rebel as we did over taxation without representation. On this contradiction is based whatever stability there might be in the workaday world of industry. Freedom of speech, not a code of silence, is the safety valve of organizational dysfunction.” Albert Walton (1921)

When executives feel their “power,” their sense of control becomes inflated. They believe not only that they control things that they do not control; they come to believe they control things that cannot be controlled at all. Joseph Hallinan (1914)

I would gladly hear any man compare the justice that is among them with that of all other nations; among whom, may I perish, if I see anything that looks either like justice or equity; for what justice is there in this: that a nobleman, a goldsmith, a banker, or any other man, that either does nothing at all, or, at best, is employed in things that are of no use to the public, should live in great luxury and splendour upon what is so ill acquired, and a mean man, a carter, a smith, or a ploughman, that works harder even than the beasts themselves, and is employed in labours so necessary, that no commonwealth could hold out a year without them, can only earn so poor a livelihood and must lead so miserable a life, that the condition of the beasts is much better than theirs?  For as the beasts do not work so constantly, so they feed almost as well, and with more pleasure, and have no anxiety about what is to come, whilst these men are depressed by a barren and fruitless employment, and tormented with the apprehensions of want in their old age; since that which they get by their daily labour does but maintain them at present, and is consumed as fast as it comes in, there is no overplus left to lay up for old age.

Is not that government both unjust and ungrateful, that is so prodigal of its favours to those that are called gentlemen, or goldsmiths, or such others who are idle, or live either by flattery or by contriving the arts of vain pleasure, and, on the other hand, takes no care of those of a meaner sort, such as ploughmen, colliers, and smiths, without whom it could not subsist?  But after the public has reaped all the advantage of their service, and they come to be oppressed with age, sickness, and want, all their labours and the good they have done is forgotten, and all the recompense given them is that they are left to die in great misery.  The richer sort are often endeavouring to bring the hire of labourers lower, not only by their fraudulent practices, but by the laws which they procure to be made to that effect, so that though it is a thing most unjust in itself to give such small rewards to those who deserve so well of the public, yet they have given those hardships the name and colour of justice, by procuring laws to be made for regulating them. Sir Thomas More (1516) from his “Utopia” (edited by Erasmus)

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.”

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.

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 unrest. 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)

“There is war between and among the classes. War, sometimes overt and violent, sometimes concealed and even unconscious, but war nevertheless. The war is all the more intense and irrepressible because it springs, not from personal hostility or accidental misunderstandings; but from ever-present organic economic causes. There is war between employer and employee. The employer is in business for profits. Industrial profits come from the work of the hired hand. The smaller the wages the larger the profits. The employee works for wages. Wages represent the product of his labor after deduction of the employer’s profit. The smaller the profit the larger the wages. The employer must strive to maintain or increase his profits under penalty of industrial extermination. His personal views and feelings cannot alter the situation.

There is war between producer and user. Business is conducted for profits. The larger the prices of the commodity or the higher the rate of service the greater, ordinarily, is the profit of the capitalist. Hence, the everlasting quarrels between the seller and the buyer, the landlord and the tenant, the carrier and the passenger, the aggressive and inexorable “producer,” and the pitiable “ultimate consumer.” The individualistic and competitive system of industry is a system of general social warfare; an ugly, brutal fight of all against all. It is a mad, embittered race for wealth or bread, without plan or   system, without pity or mercy. It has produced the abnormal type of the multi-millionaire with a hoard of material wealth enough to last thousands of families for countless generations to come, and the children of the slums succumbing for lack of the barest necessaries of life.

Since the world is the home of people who have complicated dealings with each other, it has come to pass that each gets tolerated by the other in seeking his own personal ends solely upon the implied condition that each will be an agent to do some sort of work for his fellows. Wherever a collection of human beings begins to resolve itself into a society, the process involves a tacit agreement that some of the persons will attend to a certain work needed by the society, while others will look after the remainder. If a hundred farmers should happen to buy land in the same township remote from other settlements, these farmers would sooner or later illustrate the change that has gone on, with difference of detail, in the development of every civilization or part of civilization. The fundamental grievance of classes against other classes in modern society is that the supposed offenders are violators of this primal law of reciprocity.

Criticisms of institutions or of the persons operating them resolve themselves into charges that whereas the parties in question are presumed to be useful social agencies, they are in reality using their social office for the subordination of public weal to private gain. This is at bottom the charge of the dissatisfied proletarian of all classes against employers, capitalists, corporations, trusts, monopolies, legislators, and administrators. This is also in large part the implied counter-charge against organized labor.

The most serious count in the wage-earner’s indictment of other classes is not primarily that these classes draw too much pay, but that they are not doing the work that their revenues are supposed to represent. Back of all formal contracts or statutes or institutions, therefore, is this unwritten law of civilization that every citizen shall be a public servant. The cycles of social growth, arrest, decay, have always illustrated in turn observance, neglect, and violation of this law. Men and institutions have begun by serving their day and generation in a socially needful way. They have sometimes ended by making their day and generation serve them in a socially harmful way. Then has come social condemnation, rejection, substitution. H. G. Moulton 1907

The greater the bureaucratization of public life, the greater will be the attraction of violence. In a fully developed bureaucracy there is nobody left with whom one could argue, to whom one could present grievances, on whom the pressures of power could be exerted. Bureaucracy is the form of government in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act; for the rule by Nobody is not no-rule, and where all are equally powerless we have a tyranny without a tyrant. John R. Dunlap (1893)

The unrest of our society today is due, in large measure, to suspicion that men are falling more and more into the position of toilers for other men who are evading the law of reciprocal service. Dissatisfaction is fed by belief that many occupations, needful in themselves, are becoming less and less a social benefaction and more and more a means of levying tribute over and above the value of the service. Successful and arrogant individualism seems to defy the law of mutualism that must reign in right society.

These problems connected with the social control of industrial affairs are very complex and baffling in machine industry. It is not merely that we “do not know.” We do not know that we do not know. Our measures of control are largely based upon the hypotheses of simple industry. Through social inheritance the popular mind has been firmly established in the dogma of the infallibility of competition under any and all circumstances, so that our formal social control is organized on the assumption that price should correspond with cost and that this will come about when the “normal” has been worked out.

We are gradually coming to a proper realization of the shortcomings of “free” competition as the law of trade in complex industry, and are coming to rely more and more upon formal social control in the guise of state action laying down the rules of the game under which our industrial operations must be performed. And we are making increasing use of informal social control. We are striving to develop codes of ethics and to bring home to the individual a sense of personal responsibility.

All this brings us clearly face to face with a very serious problem— whether we possibly can control the great political forces which economic forces have created. For the whole political and moral evolution was inherent in the machines that replaced the hand labor of former times. You would not have had the trusts in a regime of hand labor; you would not have had the enormous mills that united to form the trusts. It is the machine that has made the size of a mill so important and has made it impossible for any but the big one to survive. The fact that only a few did survive first caused those few to compete so vigorously with each other that they made almost no profits, then enabled them to save their profits by consolidating, and finally incited them to seek, besides legitimate profits to which they had a perfect right, an income not founded in justice and one to which a harsh term may correctly be applied. Joseph Costello (1895)

There is a clear assumption running through their statements that the greatest (not the sole) reason for the present small production is the soldiering of the workmen; that this soldiering is not only caused by the union, but that it is inseparable from the union, and that with the introduction of the efficiency system the union will, in fact, disappear. The clear implication is that all these things are desirable. It goes without argument that such a scheme, if practicable, is of immediate advantage to the employer, for he gets his extra gains at once. How much of these gains would disappear if the system were universally applied is another question. This raises the whole subject of the cause of values. With the system universally applied, more goods would be produced, and this would undoubtedly benefit the consumer; but how much good the employer, as such, would get out of it, would be determined by the same forces as at present. D. P Smelser (1915)

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. John Driscoll (1892)

This very fact that institutions possess common qualities explains why they can never accomplish acts demanding a high degree of intelligence. The decisions affecting matters of general interest come to by an assembly of men of distinction, but specialists in different walks of life, are not sensibly superior to the decisions that would be adopted by a gathering of imbeciles. The truth is, they can only bring to bear in common on the work in hand those mediocre qualities which are the birthright of every average individual. It is stupidity and not mother-wit that is accumulated. Gustave Le Bon (1902)

The immensity of the catalogue of organizational dysfunction is no longer a matter of something happening to some unfortunates in some remote or backward corner of the world; it is constantly touching each of us. This mess is the creation of human minds. We created it. All of us. Together. Whether we like it or not, this is the tangible harvest of our collective imaginations, our creativity and ingenuity. It is an achievement of the ways we, the human family, think and act.

And as terrible as things are outside, there, the most brutal aspect of the human condition has become the pain, suffering and insecurity inside, here. Collectively, are we, the human race, very, very stupid or are we just ignorant and arrogant? What else could account for the mess that we have?

It deeply pains me to think that this is the world I am leaving to my children, grandchildren and posterity: my legacy to the world that has sustained me. I had hoped to leave this world a better, not more desperate, place than I found it. We have an extremely complex problem. It has many different facets. Each facet has many issues. And there are multiple ways of looking at each issue.

Using Albert Einstein’s observations:

  • Technology has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift to unparalleled catastrophes.
  • The world that we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems we cannot solve at the same level at which we created them.

We cling to these obsolete concepts and habits because that is where all of us have invested a huge part of ourselves, our energies and our societies. Cultures are the anchors and points of reference or orientation we rely upon to face the uncertainties and insecurities of life. Albert Spencer (1927)

The disappearance of a sense of responsibility is the most far-reaching consequence of submission to authority. If you hold that an individual is born with the obligation to obey, as socialization demands, who, then, is born with the right to command? Stanley Milgram (1969)

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)

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. John Commons (1898)

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.

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 benefitted.

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. Emile W. J. Troup (1916)

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)

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. It is not abnormal for the average manager to meet this unrest 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.” Spencer Bartlett (1893)

It is only by obtaining some sort of insight into the psychology of social systems than it can be understood how powerless individuals are to hold any opinions other than those which are imposed on them. Gustave Le Bon (1898)

Insights about Causes

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. Lester B. Sharp (1896)

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 time that attention be given to inside-head expenses. Michael Murphy (1903)

The motivation of the businessman traces to the combination of the instincts of contrivance, acquisition, domination and emulation. The pragmatic focus is on the instinct of domination. Domination is of great influence in the social and economic sphere: ‘Domination, power, and conquest’ — this plays a great part in the industrial world as well as in the political. It goes with the love of adventure, to which we give in business life the more euphemistic term ‘enterprise.’ Industry is an alternative to politics as an outlet for the desire for power: Like Alexander or Napoleon, the captain of industry would rule the world.

Whereas the instinct of contrivance is not among the more powerful of the impulses that stir the man of affairs; though surely not to be neglected, of all the overmastering instincts which drive the captain of industry that of domination appears to be the more important. To no small degree, it is the instinct to suffer no opposition to control. It explains the intemperate opposition to trade-unions which is almost invariably shown by the business leader. The strong employers desire to crush the union is not merely the outcome of cold calculations of profit. The instincts, especially of domination, are channeled with the implication that it is the human material and not the system which generates undesired outcomes. Bryan Jensen (1906)

An inborn instinct of submission and an innate aggressiveness is within the human animal.  The first lesson of civilization is that of obedience and the two states of the inclinations . . . one the desire to exercise power over others; the other disinclination to have power exercised over themselves.’ If we would trust our own experiences in these matters, we should know that the instinct of submission, an ardent desire to obey and be ruled by some strong man, is at least as prominent in human psychology as the will to power, and, politically, perhaps more relevant.

The old adage ‘How fit he is to sway that can so well obey,’ known to all centuries and all nations, points to a psychological truth: namely, that the will to power and the will to submission are interconnected. ‘Ready submission to tyranny’, is by no means always caused by ‘extreme passiveness.’ Conversely, a strong disinclination to obey is often accompanied by an equally strong disinclination to dominate and drive.  John Stuart Mill (1870)

It is neither our intention nor desire to extort inequitable prices for our labour; all we may demand for this shall not exceed what can be clearly demonstrated to be a fair and fully equivalent. If we demand more we wrong the society of which we are members, and if society require us to receive less, she injures and oppresses us.

The real object, therefore, of this association, is to avert, if possible, the desolating evils which must inevitably arise from a depreciation of the intrinsic value of human labour ; to raise the mechanical and productive classes to that condition of true independence and inequality [sic] which their practical skill and ingenuity, their immense utility to the nation and their growing intelligence are beginning imperiously to demand; to promote, equally, the happiness, prosperity and welfare of the whole community- to aid in conferring a due and full proportion of that invaluable promoter of happiness, leisure, upon all its useful members ; and to assist, in conjunction with such other institutions of this nature as shall hereafter be formed throughout the union, in establishing a just balance of power, both mental, moral, political and scientific, between all the various classes and individuals which constitute society at large. Burleigh Anderson (1888)

Cultivate an admiration for all genuine superiority. While all the monstrous inequalities of our times can by no means be upheld by good men, while many of those inequalities, the fruit of evil, can beget only evil, remember that nothing more disastrous to you could happen than to live in a society in which all should be equals.

It is a grand thing for us that there are men with higher natures than ours, and with every advantage for the development of their faculties, that they may lead in the world’s progress, and serve us as examples of what we should strive to become. It will not take you long, if you think earnestly about it, to become convinced of this. It is well for the small farmer to have a rich neighbor to take the lead in the use of expensive machinery, the introduction of blooded stock, and in other experiments, which, if disastrous, would ruin a poor man. Richard T. Ely (1886)

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)

Since head sheds have no legally enforceable responsibility for prudent operation of their organization, 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)

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 traveler 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 (1904)

Someone has spoken of corporations as being organizations “without a soul.” A number of examples indicate that great business establishments need not necessarily be soulless and that cold-blooded methods, or on the other hand those in which the element of human interests and relations appear, are merely matters of election and of the management of affairs to the end chosen.

Experience further demonstrates that the latter method is more successful in that, while adding to the sum total of human happiness, it pays economically. The reasons for this seem to be imperfectly understood, even by the organizations which have made effort to use it. But what has gone before in this book sets forth such reasons very clearly as founded on the laws of human nature. In exactly the proportion in which such laws are employed to the desired purpose, and are not contravened, industrial difficulties are avoided, unnecessary wastage of potential man power is reduced, productivity is increased and economic results are successful. It is not only a case of dollars and cents, but of dollars and sense. Successful business does not overlook the human agencies contributing to business success.

The efficiency of labor is the greatest factor that influences productivity and profit. This is evidenced by the unceasing efforts to produce new “labor saving” devices, not only to lower costs but to reduce the various difficulties attaching to human agencies. Labor probably enters into costs more than capital invested in machinery and plants, and as a far more variable and perplexing factor. It is curious that the importance of this element has not been more fully realized and that more intelligent effort has not been made to solve the problem of increasing productivity through the man as well as the machine. Inasmuch as the purpose of an industry is to produce, an essential quality to consider in an employee is his comparative productiveness.

Where differences in productivity exist between individuals of the same group of workers producing the same thing under the same conditions and encouraged to develop their output to the full capacity, it is apparent that these relate to diversity of qualities within the individual workers themselves. Mental state enters-in that workers of enthusiasm and loyalty will show it in producing more than those not prompted by these influences, often in great degree of difference. Thus, it is economically important to determine where and to what extent such differences exist and their causes, for the worker who does more is worth more, having due consideration not only to quantity but to quality. Edward Lyman Munson, Col., US Army (1919)

To the question, why does not the increase of wealth correspondingly diminish poverty? We reply: because there is nothing in the operation of economic laws to secure a just, reasonable, or tolerable distribution of wealth. Lester B. Ward (1915)

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.

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)

Management has always selectively and deliberately considered labor as the opponent in a zero-sum game. In 1880, Frederick Winslow Taylor was struck by how little management, handicapped by prejudices handed down from the past, knew about their workers and how erroneous their notions as to the role workers play in creating their fortunes. Never appreciating that when they fail the worker, by withholding instruction, conditions of work, and morale, they fail their own stated purpose. Even when confronted with successful applications of psychological principles, management continued to pursue policies and practices proven to fail. John Leitch (1914)

Income without satisfaction in work means labor instability, unrest and lowered output. 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 causes are invisible, a network of entangled minds, but the effects are material and tangible. Clarence Hammond (1916)

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. Michael Loweke (1917)

Textbooks 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)

Observe some of the consequences connected with the social control of machine industry in the interests of the fuller service of society. This is, of course, not exclusively a machine industry topic. It is connected with all the other phases of our society, particularly with its pecuniary organization. Whether for better or worse, industry is conducted for gain today. Social control is needed lest the individual gain in ways harmful to society. To control wisely means to know. To know is difficult in a new, complex, rapidly changing situation.

How can we control the genie? As will appear, it is permissible to speak of the industries which preceded the industrial revolution as “simple” industries and of the industries of today as “complex industries.” This classification helps us to appreciate some of the difficulties connected with social control of industrial matters today, for, in itself, a complex situation is difficult to cope with. Then, too, during the many generations of simple industry certain attitudes of mind developed—certain slogans, maxims, watchwords, and theories.

These, reasonably well adapted to simple industry, have by social inheritance come down to us, and we try to apply them to complex industry with more or less disastrous consequences. Since the reign of the machine—the new technology— has been too brief for us to have developed new attitudes of mind— indeed, even expert students are often at a loss to know what new attitudes should be developed—it follows that for some time to come we are likely to be in a state of uncertainty and bewilderment with respect to many matters of social control.

Our old mental landmarks have been swept away, but we have not yet learned what ones may safely be set up in their place. One illustration will suffice. Under simple industry there grew up a faith in “free” competition as an efficient organizing force for industrial society. Free competition involves, among other things, adequate knowledge of the essential facts by all interested parties, and mobility with respect to productive forces.  Under simple industry these conditions obtained. Men could ascertain essential facts; furthermore, it was easy to abandon an unprofitable line of activity and easy to take up a new one.

Under complex industry, however, adequate knowledge and mobility of productive forces are not readily secured; consequently the conditions which would render competition efficient as a universal regulator no longer obtain in large sections of industry. None the less there still rests firmly in the minds of the general public, and, as a result, in the minds of most of our legislators, the conviction that competition is under all circumstances “the life of trade.” Accordingly, much of our legislation (witness the Interstate Commerce Act and almost all of our trust legislation) proceeds calmly on the assumption that most matters may wisely be left to “free” competition. It is, of course, true that competition still has very important functions and possibly an increasing range of functions to perform in our industrial society.

The laborer, like all the rest of us, is the product of heredity and environment. That is to say, he is not rational in the sense that his response to any given mental stimulus is invariable and is uniform with that of all other men. On the contrary, like the rest of us, he is a bundle of notions, prejudices, beliefs, unconscious preconceptions and postulates, the product of his peculiar heredity and environment. These unconscious and subconscious psychic elements necessarily mix with and color his immediate impressions, and they together limit and determine his intellectual activity.

What is or has been outside his ancestral and personal environment must be either altogether incomprehensible to him, or else must be conceived as quite like or analogous to that which has already been mentally assimilated. He cannot comprehend what he has not, or thinks he has not, experienced. Now it is well known that the environment of the laborer under the modern capitalistic system has tended to become predominantly one of physical force.

He has been practically cut off from all knowledge of market and managerial activities. The ideals, motives, and cares of property-ownership are becoming foreign to him. More and more, in his world, spiritual forces are giving way to the apparent government and sanction of blind physical causation. In the factory and the mine, spiritual, ethical, customary, and legal forces and authorities are altogether in the background. To the laborer, as the product of this environment, the proprietary and managerial claims of the employer tend to become, of necessity, simply incomprehensible.

The only kind of production which he can recognize is the material outcome of physical force—the physical good. Value unattached to and incommensurable with the physical product or means of production is to him merely an invention of the employing class to cover up unjust appropriation. He knows and can know nothing about the capitalized value of managerial ability or market connections. To him, then, only the ownership of the physical product and the physical means of production is in question, and the important point with him is: By what physical force are these things made what they are?

It is a matter of simple observation that the employer exerts no direct or appreciable physical force in connection with the productive process. Therefore, in the eyes of the laborer, he cannot have any natural rights of proprietorship and management based on productive activity. In the same way all other grounds on which ownership and the managerial rights of the employer are based have become inconclusive to the laborer. Appropriation, gift, inheritance, saving, contract, in themselves do not produce any physical effect on the only goods which he can recognize.

Therefore they cannot be used prove property in any just or natural sense. They hold in practice simply because back of them is the physical force of the police and army established and maintained by the middle class to protect its proprietary usurpations. Thus the whole claim of the employer to the right to manage his own business to suit himself has become and becoming in a way incomprehensible to the laborer on grounds of natural equity. At the same time, by virtue of habit and the sanction of physical force as a productive agent, he sees himself even more clearly the rightful proprietor of his job and of the products of it. This is the natural and inevitable outcome of the conditions under which he lives and toils.

It is not so much a personal virtue with him as an evolutionary necessity. He cannot see things otherwise. He is made so by the conditions of his life. As a matter of fact, the laborer is so circumstanced that obligation to contract with the employer must appear secondary in importance to his obligations to fellow-workers. This is not difficult to show. Ever since the establishment of the money wage system, the everyday experience of the laborer has been teaching him the supreme importance of mutuality in his relations with his immediate fellow-workers. The money payment, related, not to the physical result of his efforts, but to its economic importance, has been blotting out for him any direct connection between effort and reward. Experience has taught him to look upon his labor as one thing in its effects and another thing in its reward. Curtice N. Hitchcock 1915

Too many of us have stopped too soon on the path of scientific development of our industries. The man is infinitely well worth study and infinitely more difficult to study than the machine. We all believe that cleaner and better things are attainable than a constant struggle between profits at the top and penury at the bottom in the same establishment. Joseph Tiffin 1877

The traditional method of making workers more productive was to push and drive them, to demand more of them, put pressure on them, rather than to assist them to develop their proficiency and to reward them for putting forth their best effort. The threat of discharge, the pace-setter, the cut piece-rate, bonuses to foremen and gang bosses based on the output of their men, were the typical instruments of this system of management.

In some instances, especially in sweated industries and in industries where immigrants, women, or children were largely employed, the drive system succeeded in greatly speeding up production. Taking the country as a whole, however, the effect of the drive system seems to have been the opposite of what was intended, for it was largely responsible for a tacit conspiracy among workers to restrict output. This deliberate restriction of output efficiency, which was largely a result of the piece-rate cutting policy, was almost universal, and resulted in the output of most shops being far below what the workmen could easily accomplish.

Not only did the drive system of management result on the whole in limitation rather than in increase of output, but it was a most potent cause of antagonism between workers and management. The basic principle of the system, that the workers could be coerced into giving the largest output of which they were capable without a corresponding increase in their pay, was, of course, naturally calculated to produce trouble.  But the effect of the drive system went farther.  The successful operation of the system required that the workmen submit to being driven.

In applying the drive system, therefore, the management was compelled to seek to create a docile and submissive attitude on the part of the workers. This could be done only by overawing and cowing them, causing them to feel a sense of weakness and dependence, and, above all, by causing them to fear the management. The management, therefore, deliberately pursued a policy designed to cause its men to fear it. Management maintained as a matter of policy a brusque, more or less harsh, distant, and stern attitude toward the men. To be lenient or friendly or considerate, to give ear to complaints or to redress grievances, was regarded as “pampering” them.

To indulge in this would ruin discipline, cause the men to think they had rights which they did not have, or cause them to think that the management was weak and could be bluffed or “worked.”  The result would be to foster discontent, to stimulate arrogant demands, to create trouble instead of good will. Above all, the men must be made to feel that the management was strong and powerful, determined to have its way and not to be trifled with. The greater the fear of itself which the management produced by the drive policy, the greater the ill will it created against itself. Although the drive system failed to develop a high degree of efficiency, it laid the foundation of industrial unrest broad and deep. I. M. Rubinow (1918)

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? Jack Ring (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)

Before we are fully prepared to consider, in all its length and breadth, the important proposition that society can and should seriously undertake the artificial improvement of its condition upon scientific principles strictly analogous to those by which the rude conditions of nature have been improved upon in the process which we call civilization; before we are wholly ready to enter upon an argument to prove the feasibility, the desirability, and the right of society, as such, to adopt an aggressive reform policy guided entirely by scientific foresight rendered possible by an intelligent acquaintance with the fundamental laws of human action; before we can justly contemplate man in his social corporate capacity assuming the attitude of a teleological agent and adopting measures in the nature of final causes for the production of remote beneficial effects – before we can properly rise to this position, it seems necessary that we should first seek to obtain as just and true a conception as the human mind is capable of grasping, of the real and precise relations which man and nature mutually sustain to each other. Lester F. Ward (1881)

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 have known for a long time now that a person’s behavior and performance in the workplace is more a function of the workplace environment than it is the person’s skills or knowledge. The wrong behaviors are rewarded, the desired behaviors are punished or ignored, barriers to performing as desired or expected exist and are not removed, support for desired behavior and performance is missing. If you put a good person in a bad system, the system will win every time. No contest. Geary Rummler (2003)

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 apart from 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 one who can provoke ideas, raise doubts, stimulate ambitions, and then let the others do it themselves, he is the teacher. And he, too, may impart a soul to the corporation— the soul of hope, personality, individuality, self-reliance, in the workers because their work is interesting, promising and unfinished.

This is not limited to academia, but is very much a reality for practitioners, as demonstrated by the lack of success in emulating the Toyota System. It is not for the lack of publications that the message does not seem to get across. A plethora of business books are published each year, upwards of one thousand seven hundred in the United States, and upwards of $60 billion spent on training by organizations. They ask why there is such a divide between training, management consultation and organizational research, and so few changes in actual management practice. “If the evidence suggests that many successful interventions rely more on implementation of simple knowledge than on creating new insights, then our position that the gap between knowing and doing is important for firm performance follows logically. Transforming knowledge into organizational action is at least as important to organizational success.”  The difficulty in the transfer of successful experiences is an indication that a lacuna somewhere in the process is affecting the outcome. Michel Mestre (2002)

Wherever human beings are grouped together in mutual endeavor or for the accomplishment of a definite task, attitude is bound to be a controlling factor in their work. That their mental state, their will to do, their cooperative effort – all of which are synonymous – bear a true relation to their output, productivity and the success of the joint undertaking, is so obvious and has been proven so often as to require no supporting argument.

It is regrettable that modern industry has failed so often to comprehend this basic and vital economic truth or, comprehending it, has failed to grasp the opportunity and turn it to practical advantage. Directive and administrative energy has been turned too exclusively along mechanical and operative lines with disregard of the intrinsic and vitalizing psychological factors of producing.” Arthur Twining Hadley (1901)

Invoking managerialism is futile. It approaches change using the mindsets and techniques of the command and control workplace and it does not work. Brad Jackson (2001)

Truth Intolerance

The truth is that Life and Work to-day under the commercial-industrial regime have become so hideous and monotonous and altogether detestable that to the plain man the very notion of their possible charm and beauty has become ludicrous, and not to be entertained. What then are the necessary conditions for making Work a pleasure? They are so extraordinarily simple that it is a marvel that they have so far escaped attention and been neglected. Work is a pleasure when it is free and creative in character—and that is the whole mystery of the matter. There is little else to be said.

The real obstacle — both to the spread of any such ideal, and to the practical working of it out—lies in the matter  we have mentioned above, the excess of possessive instinct which pervades large classes. The very extensive and wealthy classes who to-day control production and derive their riches from the enslavement of labor, dread above all things the freeing of the worker and the prospect of the latter becoming self-determining and master of his fate.

Though it is notorious that the present dispensation produces a rather futile, mean, and miserable master-class, together with a dismal, weary, and sad-eyed worker class, yet the whole political and social engine is concentrated on the effort to maintain it as it is, and to disguise or conceal its evil character.  I understand that wicked as the War is, it is in its essence the outcome and result of something more wicked; and I pray that when afterwards – the millions return to their homes they will see to it that never again shall the soulless regime of the past be reinstated, but that industrial life shall go forward into a new land—the land of freedom and of joy.

There is one thing which the War has done, in which we are all agreed. It has convinced us that it will be no use in the future pleading Poverty as our excuse for the continuance of the past conditions. This People of ours, which has been able to rise up and pour out money like water for the purposes of the present conflict, can never again say that resources are wanting for the far more important purpose of creating for itself a really worthy and great national life. Charles Gide (1921)

In 1913 USA production efficiency had dropped to 60% from previous higher levels. By 1920 the figure had fallen to 40%. No one disputes the attainable benchmark efficiency at 90%. Most people treat this ongoing calamity as of no consequence. Why does management combat successful methods? Albert Grimshaw (1917)

One of the main forces in keeping economic motive on a low moral level has been the doctrine that selfishness is all we need or can hope to have in this phase of life. Economists have too commonly taught that if each man seeks his private interest the good of society will take care of itself, and the somewhat anarchic conditions of the time have discouraged a better theory. In this way we have been confirmed in a pernicious state of belief and practice, for which discontent, inefficiency, and revolt are the natural penalty. A social system based on this doctrine deserves to fail.

By a sense of security I mean the feeling that there is a larger and more enduring life surrounding, appreciating, upholding the individual, and guaranteeing that his efforts and sacrifice will not be in vain. I might almost say that it is a sense of immortality; if not that, it is something akin to and looking toward it, something that relieves the precariousness of the merely private self. It is rare that human nature sustains a high standard of behavior without the consciousness of opinions and sympathies that illuminate the standard and make it seem worthwhile. It lies deep in the social nature of our minds that ideals can hardly seem real without such corroboration.

While it is not indispensable, in order to secure emulation in service, that the work should allow of self-expression and so be attractive in itself, yet in so far as we can make it self-expressive we release fresh energies of the human mind. The ideal condition is to have something of the spirit of art in every task, a sense of joyous individual creation. We are formed for development, and an endless, hopeless repetition is justly abhorrent. No matter how humble a man’s work, he will do it better and in a better spirit if he sees that he can improve upon it and hope to pass beyond it. As regards the individual himself, self-expression is simply the deepest need of his nature. It is required for self-respect and integrity of character, and there can be no question more fundamental than that of so ordering life that the mass of men may have a chance to find self-expression in their principal activity.

Self-expression springs from the deeper and more obscure currents of life, from subconscious, unmechanized forces which are potent without our understanding why. It represents humanity more immediately and its values are, or may be, more vital and significant than those of the market; we may look to them for art, for science, for religion, for moral improvement, for all the fresher impulses to social progress. The onward things of life usually come from men whose imperious self-expression disregards the pecuniary market. In humbler tasks self-expression is required to give the individual an immediate and lively interest in his work; it is the motive of art and joy, the spring of all vital achievement.

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)

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. Alistair Cooke (1899)

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.

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. Given two establishments in the same industry, in the same locality, build for them the same buildings, equip them with the same machinery and establish for them similar methods of handling equipment and materials – yet, in the course of a short time, there will be a difference in both the quality and the quantity of their output.

If one of the above plants were headed by a management of the ordinary or traditional type and the other by a management which fully realized the importance of personnel and had developed an active philosophy tending toward the solution of the personal problem, the difference in practical results would be so great as to be unbelievable by the uninitiated. In fact, this difference alone would often spell failure in the one case and success in the other.

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. Benjamin Stevens (1921)

The bottom line to all the paradoxes is this: managements at all levels, create by their own choice, a world that is contrary to what they say they prefer and contrary to the managerial stewardship they espouse. It is as if they are compulsively tied to a set of processes that prevent them from changing what they believe they should change.  W. Edwards Deming (1981)

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.

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.

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)

Everything that gives us a certain elevation over others by making us more perfect, by giving us a certain authority over them by making us more powerful, with honors and riches, seems to make us independent controllers. All those below us revere and fear us, they are always prepared to do what pleases us for our preservation, and they dare not harm us or resist our desires. It prostrates them at our feet. It excites them in our favor. It inspires in them all the impulses that tend to increase our grandeur. Nicolas Malebranche (1705)

This principle of collective payment throws the responsibility upon every individual to contribute his maximum quota to the whole. It has almost completely crushed out of existence the practice of Ca’canny, for where is the man of sufficient courage to exercise his genius for shirking when the consequences of his action would be to bring down on his head the wrath of the shop? Rob Prichard (1913)

The disastrous grasping policy of the mine owner has had the result of causing the workmen to erect a code of customs and rules, designed to protect their wages and conditions. These act directly in restraint of production, as well as of the owners’ greed. Remove this code by removing its cause, and the management of a mine loses three-fourths of its worries, while it at least doubles its efficiency. Carter Lyman Goodrich (1919)

I shall not urge details of dealing with men any more than to urge details of tools and materials we see, but I do urge that as the laws of nature are utilized by us all after keen inquiry into them in the mechanical and material side of our work, so the laws of human nature shall be given at least as keen study in the living and productive side of our work. For, since both the laws of mechanics and the laws of human nature are but a partial manifestation of the law of the universe, there can be no harmony and no basis for permanent peace in reaching for the highest production until we have readjusted our factories so that they operate in accordance with the laws of human nature. Ordway Tead (1895)

Summarized briefly, the claims of the efficiency engineers are that by adopting their methods production can be increased from 200 to 300 per cent., with an increase of from 30 to 60 percent in wages (Taylor fixed 60 percent as the maximum), and with an increase of profits of from 200 to 400 per cent; and, be it noted, their appeal is always to facts and not to theory. James Fisher (1911)

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)

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 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)

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. Byron Kellogg (1910)

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.

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. Gerald Harwood (1912)

There always have been and always will be individual employers in advance of anything that legislation has done or can do. The first great employer of this kind was Robert Owen, one hundred years ago, who reduced the hours of labor in his cotton mills to ten per day and made a fortune when others were working their employees fifteen or sixteen hours. Today, when legislation in Wisconsin, for example, sets the Unit of hours for women at 54 per week, a few leading employers adopt 49, and make more money, for they get and keep a higher grade of help. Frank Bowker (1897)

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)

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)


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.

As managers observed the experience with the superficial forms of welfare work which marked the beginning of the efforts to improve relations between employers and their men, and as they made more and more systematic study of the means of developing the efficiency of their organizations, they became aware of the deep-seated nature of labor’s discontent, of the fundamentally defective character of their methods of handling men and of the superficial and inadequate character of their devices for improving their relations with their men. They perceived that the problem of handling men was deeper and more complicated than they had suspected. L. P. Alford (1920)

No amount of management can compensate for the absence of foremanship. Management lacks the proximity and local knowledge to be constructive. Intentions aside, its acts can only be destructive. Labor demands the right to work under a manager who will treat them as men inside the shop. Robert Nyman (1903)

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

The foremen and gang bosses are the most important means by which workmen come in contact with the management – they are the management to the workmen in most matters. He is not dealing with a visible machine, but with a method or system which is an invisible machine. Every factory executive has heard the expression used by workmen: “So and so is a good man to work for.” He knows what it means from the standpoint of satisfied workmen and absence of friction between the men and the boss when a foreman acquires such a reputation. In view of the well-recognized importance of the methods used by minor executives in handling men in their effect upon the relations between men and management, it is surprising that so little systematic effort has been made to improve the methods of minor executives in handling men. Sumner Slichter (1914)

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)

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)

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)

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.

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)

Ordinarily the intangibles of psychology receive little attention and consideration in industrial affairs, but if these are aroused in them, the reaction is much like that expressed by the foreman whose champion gang at the Hog Island ship yard set a new record for riveting, “According to my way of figuring, this thing called morale is blamed important.”  All business men realize that production is not a smooth and orderly process at all times and that with exactly the same physical equipment of plant, machinery, material and capital invested, and with the same number of workers, elements of morale affecting the latter will enter to force output up or down. This may be so variable as to run the gamut between profit and loss. Edward Lyman Munson (1919)

It is clear that for the lodging of any administrative function, and the resting of the corresponding responsibility, there must be a certain ideal point in the administrative hierarchy of any organization. This point is where the problem of keeping in touch with the specific details of the agencies of the action controlled, is approximately equal in difficulty to the problem of keeping in touch with the general plan of which that action is a part. To move a function from this point towards headquarters is to lose touch with specific conditions; to move it closer to the agencies of performance is to lose touch with the general plan.

As organizations grow, one function after another should take its departure from headquarters and pass down the line of administration, drawn to lower levels, by the necessity of keeping in touch with local conditions. The progress of an organization is largely due to the ambitious upward pressure of the ranks below. Judicious liberty will increase this pressure, and form a prime means of insuring the future. Arthur Casement (1911)

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. Carl Hookstat (1875)

It is important that the desires of the individual as to choice of task should be helped as far as possible and not thwarted. It has already been stated that what human beings want to do they usually do well, and they do it well because they want to do it. This of course has a direct bearing on productivity.  It is short-sighted economic policy to attempt to meet a special need at the expense of the sacrifice of interest and the checking of the energy flowing from constructiveness. Edward Lyman Munson (1919)

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. Edmund Burke (April 23, 1770)

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)

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 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)

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)

Our senior officers knew the war was going badly. Yet they bowed to groupthink pressure and kept up pretenses. …Many of my generation, the career captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels seasoned in that war, vowed that when our turn came to call the shots, we would not quietly acquiesce in halfhearted warfare for half-baked reasons that the American people could not understand. Colin Powell


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