The research seeks to explain in detail concepts of division of labor. It has been observed that these economic elements though theoretical, influence a larger aspect of the practical way of life especially in the business aspect. With relatable practical examples, the writer tries to shed more light on the noted concepts with the desire to create awareness and a learning platform, especially with those desiring to undertake entrepreneurship as an option to employment.
Division of labor may be achieved through the division of processes or employment into parts, each of which is carried out by a separate individual. In addition, individuals cooperate either consciously or unconsciously in order to undertake a divisible process or types of work in employment with the specific goal of completing a specific task. In regards to the subject issue, a good example could be drawn from a pin factory. Through working together as a team though each with separate tasks, it is possible to produce 2400 times as much than it would be if each worker was working separately without separation. This way, work is done more efficiently and productivity is higher. Work is divided in the sense that one person pulls out the wires to be used while another one straightens it, the third party in the line cuts it in order to allow for the fourth person to point it and for the fifth to grind it. This way, all the distinctintive operations are divided and performed by different hands. It is therefore beneficial to consider the aspect of division of labor, in terms of better productivity, higher volume and efficiency at the work place. This way, a company is guaranteed of a continuous flow of material in case of demand to the market, therefore being competitive.
While division of labor is characterized by much positivism, there have been various controversies surround in the theory. It is argued that while the practice creates a lot of efficiency at the work place, it also results top dehumanization of the workers/employees of the company. This is in the sense that the continuous differentiation of jobs makes the workers become diminished in the sense that they become self centered and isolated at work (Pollard 1965). This is because of the repetition of the work that they constantly have to carry out meaning that they fail to develop a communal approach to issues especially in regards to tackling/solving problems. One of the major controversies with the system is that division of labor makes people less connected with the society in which they live in. It is argued that due to this process at the work place, people become less wealthy in the society since they are generally drilled to be just average creature even in their all round skills at the working place.
In another aspect altogether, it has been argued that the phenomenon of division of labor leads to over monotony of the job thus resulting into decreased production unlike what it is argued to fulfill. In this aspect therefore, mechanization is encouraged thus leading to standardized products and co-related services. This means that the workers are barred from thinking in a broader perspective and that their degree of creativity is reduced immensely. In this aspect therefore, there have been controversies on whether it is actually positive to the existence of the workers in regard to career development (Marx 1976) .The fact that they are highly specialized in the processes that they have each been accustomed to means that they can not develop in terms of progression. Consequently they are inhibited in the same field and in cases of recession end up experiencing unemployment as they are not dynamic in the skills that they posses.
There has also been the issue of whether it is actually right to carry out division of labor in the context of globalization where countries are encouraged to carry out specialization according o what they can possibly produce at there best. Critics however are of the opinion that international division of labor/specialization can be explained in regards to the work/tasks as done by the nations rather than the fact that division of labor is majorly influenced by the commercial aspect of the process, meaning that some countries might be more favored than others in the allocation of processes. It is also argued that in order for the process to be fair for all the countries. It is necessary that effective policies are put into place sine displacement of people from their jobs and is a major phenomenon resulting from specialization. The major challenge however is to ensure that every employee is able to get a working position that matches their criteria and capabilities.
There is also a controversy revolving around the process and what would be the most ideal, just and efficient way of carrying out the process. Although it is generally accepted that the process of division of labor is inevitable and very necessary, basing on the fact that no single individual is able to perfect on all the tasks, this factor leads to the development of hierarchies in the work place. However, the structure of the hierarchies could be due to a multitude of factors. However, it is hard to determine a fair and just means through which certain people should be able to fall in a certain hierarchical level (Mason 2008). However, due to the capitalist nature in the way processes are done in the modern world, it is inevitable that allocation of such hierarchical levels will be conducted in a fair and just manner. In order to get the best results, management will only try a couple of options and implement that which works for their best interest. The problem with this system is that it does not always work effectively in all the places (Braverman 1974). In many case, a technique that was deployed and worked in one area may fail to work in another area effectively. In the event of implementing the process the employees are made to become more ignorant and insular in nature at their working places since their working lives are strictly shaped by a particular task.
The issue of division of labor has also been confronted with the controversy of sexual division of labor. How does management determine which tasks work effectively for one gender than for another gender? And why should there be discrimination in the allocation of tasks for the genders? It is common knowledge that the division of tasks at the workplace in regards to the women is usually centered in a manner that makes them more convenient in regards to issues of child bearing However, this aspect does not entail the restrictions in regards to what amount of work in regards to a particular task can men do? Instead the roles are basically divided in regards to least effort required and role consistent tendencies (Mason 2008). In order to alleviate this problem however, it is argued that the constraints could be eliminated through child case provisions, though there have been no ethnographic examples regarding the same.
Another controversy is that through the division of labor greater alienation of individuals in the workplace is encouraged therefore leading to demoralization and imposition of labor discipline on the individuals involved. According to Karl Marx, the whole process may lead to poor overall skills by the employees at the work place and thus create little or no enthusiasm for their jobs at the wok place (Marx (1976). Through the process of alienation, the workers become depressed at the work place therefore becoming spiritually and physically complied to behave like machines. He also argues that due to the fact that tasks are allocated rather than chosen by the employees themselves, they cannot express their own human development in the allocated tasks (Smith 1976). Although this is a negative aspect surrounding the process, it has commonly been implemented in order to ensure that direct producers in regards to the product market are removed from the supply chain (Perrow 2002). Despite the fact that the issue creates harmony ate the work place, it should be important that the management considers whether the out put created is inclusive for the whole or just for the part and if so, how will they create a harmonious whole for all the entities of the organization.
There have also been issues regarding the peculiar problems of distribution as caused by division of labor. Due to the monotony created by working only on a specific work routine, people become very experience in only one aspect (Taylor 1919). This means that those whose skills are not applicable in a particular routine end up being less demanded and irrelevant at the work place. Finally the issue of chronic unemployment may result thus causing the employees to be displaced. It is even made worse if the economy fails to develop other sectors that can be able to take in those that have been displaced at their jobs.
It is evident and even common knowledge that when work processes are divide into parts, more efficiency and productivity is realized. However, there is no positive process without detrimental effects. This is also the case with the division of labor. However, it can be justified to state that regardless of the costs and consequences of the process. It is highly positive than negative. The process is therefore highly recommended for any business organization.
Pollard, S 1965. The Genesis of Modern Management – a study of the industrial revolution in Great Britain London, Edward Arnold Publishers pp160-74
Smith, A 1976. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations especially pp13-30 and 781-788
Taylor,F,W 1919. The Principles of Scientific Management.
Marx ,K 1976, Capital – A Critique of Political Economy Vol. One, chapter 13 ‘Co-operation’
Mason,P 2008. Live Working or Die Fighting especially chapter 2 and chapter 9
Perrow,C 2002. Organizing America Princeton, Princeton University Press, chapter 3, pp48-63.
Braverman, H 1974. Labour and Monopoly Capital, chs. 3 & 4