“In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first.”
In the late 19th century, Frederick Winslow Taylor, known to many the forefather of scientific management, sparked the automation revolution, the third great transition in the history of humanity (after the Neolithic Revolution, a result of the development of agriculture around 6,000 B.C and the industrial revolution in the 18th century) (Souza, 1999). However, it can be argued that Taylor’s greatest contribution to capitalism was not the revolution itself, but how Taylorism brought about the era of competition and syncretism with contrasting or corresponding concepts on organisational management and workplace practices, particularly Fordism, which arguably extended the dynamics of Taylorism, centered on the use of the assembly-line. This essay will examine how Fordism developed organisational management and modified workplace practices by exploring known historical application of its principles and theories. Thereupon, it will further analyse how elements of Fordism still exist in modern management sciences, taking example from Nike’s organizational system.
How Fordism changed organisational management and workplace practices
First of all, it is essential to explore the pre-Ford era to understand the changes Ford instilled in workplace practices. The pre-Ford era mainly involved skilled craft workers operating general-purpose machinery with non-standardised parts to assemble small quantities of high quality products (Edgell, 2006, p.74). A real-life example of this is Ford’s first enterprise, the Detroit Automobile Company, which its gasoline-powered delivery truck proved to be expensive, unreliable, and complicated to manufactur...
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Souza, W. 1999. Fordism and its Multiple Sequels. [e-book] London: Available through: http://www2.cddc.vt.edu/ http://www2.cddc.vt.edu/digitalfordism/fordism_materials/souza.pdf [Accessed: 19 Jan 2014].
Sturgeon, T. and Florida, R. 2000. Globalization and jobs in the automotive industry. Final report to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. International Motor Vehicle Program, Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Wild, M. T. and Jones, P. N. 1991. De-industrialisation and new industrialisation in Britain and Germany. London: Anglo-German Foundation for the Study of Industrial Society.
Yagi, K., Yokokawa, N., Shinjiro, H. and Dymski, G. 2012. Crises of global economies and the future of capitalism. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
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