Design of jobs: selected readings; (Penguin education) by Louis E Davis

By Louis E Davis

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Must we agree then with those who believe this development is a catastrophe and who see in the industrial history of the last half century the progressive disintegration of a time-honored system of work which rested on the quality of skill of the 'productive' worker? Assuredly no. We are not witnessing an organized system falling into chaos, but the transition from one system to another. This concept of a transition repudiates optimistic theses as vigorously as pessimistic ones. And even more readily.

Another way of doing essentially the same thing is to substitute for the human operator a piece of equipment that will •see' only nonrandom blips. The instruction to the piece of equipment does not exist in any usual sense of the term, yet the decision to use the equipment has the same kind of system effect as does the instruction. In one case, the command is contained within a 'program'; in the other it is not. ] In Walden Two, the problem of controlling the component operating units was accomplished through the behavioral engineer• ing technique of psychological conditioning: As Frazier explains it, a code of conduct had been worked out that would presumably keep things running smoothly if everyone concerned behaved according to plan.

T-OOJ-8 Daniel 8eU 33 But Taylor also knew what such a mechanical regimen would do to a man or, rather, what sort of man could fit into this strait jacket. 2Jn the modern economy, shading of time is so important (as Benjamin Franklin, the prototype of Max Weber's ethical protestant, remarked, 'time is money') that a large company like General Motors contracts with its workers on a six-minute basis. ) The significance of Taylorism lies in its attempt to enact a social physics. Once work was scientifically plotted, Taylor felt, there could be no disputes about how hard one should work or the pay one should receive for labor.

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