"If it were desired to reduce a man to nothing," wrote Fyodor. ' ostoevesky in The House of the Dead, ". . . it would be nec­essary only to give his work a character of uselessness." In the loth century, such a character of uselessness was, in fact, im­posed on much of the work done in American factories and offices. It was not a sudden occurrence; it was the result of a long historical process, sped by typical American haste and thoughtlessness.


The Industrial Revolution, which replaced the tools of the in­dependent workmen with machines owned by lenders of capital, had transformed handicraftsmen who were their own bosses into hired hands subject to the orders of managers. Gradually, men felt themselves swallowed by a vast, impersonal machine, which rubbed away their self-respect and, in a way, their identities. In anger against this betrayal of the human spirit by the Industrial Revolution, millions of workers listened to the false promises of Marx's counterrevolution which, as Russia has proved, offered only greater loss of self-respect and, in the end, slavery.


Now a second Industrial Revolution, quieter but more pro­found, is sweeping through U.S. industry. Its name: Human Re­lations in Industry. Its purpose: to give the American worker a sense of usefulness and importance (and thus improve his work). Its goal (stated in one sentence): to make life more fun by making work more meaningful.


The seeds of this change were sown by two great pioneers whose names are scarcely known-Frederick Winslow Taylor, a onetime day laborer, and Elton Mayo, an Australian immigrant turned Harvard sociologist. Their work did not seem related, but it was. Taylor, who died in 1915, was the father of scien­tific management; he increased industrial production by ra­tionalizing it. Mayo, who died in 1949, was the father of indus­trial human relations; he increased production by humanizing it.


While working at the Midvale (Pa.) Steel Works in the i88os, young Taylor made a discovery: it was the workers, not the bosses, who determined the production rate. The workers could go only so fast because, having learned their jobs by rule of thumb, they wasted steps, motion and time. Using a stop-watch, Taylor found that he could determine the most efficient speed for every operation by breaking it into its component parts.

Later, for Bethlehem Steel, he studied employees shoveling ore, coal, etc. He found that because they used different sized shovels, output varied widely. Taylor tried the workers with a shovel holding 34 lbs. of ore, then shifted to a shorter shovel holding 30 lbs. For every reduction in the load, each man's daily tonnage rose-until a 21-lb. load was reached. Below that, output fell. Taylor set 211 lbs. as the ideal shovel load. Result: the yard force was cut by two-thirds, yet daily loadings rose from 25 tons per man to 45.


Taylor's pioneering in time and motion studies helped bring the mass-production era which enabled workers to raise not only their output but their wages as well. Taylor's own ruling motive, as justice Brandeis observed at a memorial for Taylor, was to help his fellow men. Yet he also created a monster. By gearing human operations to the precision of machines, Taylor's system caused management to think of workers as little more than machines that had to eat. Since the only measure of efficiency was the utmost utilization of time, men were subjected to the intolerable nervous strain of the "speed-up," where assemblies moved always a little faster than men's natural work pace.


A point came where greater "efficiency" no longer yielded greater output. Example: at a Pennsylvania textile plant where the labor turnover in one of the spinning departments was 41 times higher than elsewhere in the plant, efficiency experts in 1923 set up various wage incentives, yet production remained low and spinners kept quitting. When Elton Mayo was called in, he discovered the men were poor producers for a reason which had not occurred to anyone: they were unhappy. The ma­ch'nes had been set up so as to deprive the men of virtually all human contact with one another; lonely, they fell into melan­choly and hypochondria. Mayo prescribed four daily rest periods when the workers could relax, brought in a nurse to whom they could complain. The change wrought by these two relatively minor steps was startling. Turnover immediately diminished; production for the first time reached the established quotas.


Four years later, something even more startling happened. At its Hawthorne Works near Chicago, Western Electric tried to determine the effects of lighting on the worker and his output. As a test, it moved a group of girls into a special room with variable lighting, another group into a room where lighting re­mained as before. To its amazement, production shot up in both rooms. When the lighting was reduced in the first room, pro­duction continued to rise. But it also kept rising in the second room. Not until Mayo was called in to make tests of his own did the company discover what had happened. The simple an­swer: both groups were producing more because they had been singled out for special attention. The excitement of the experi­ments made them feel that they were no longer mere cogs.


Mayo's Hawthorne experiments were widely hailed as a land­mark in social science. Actually, they revealed nothing which could not have been learned from any factory hand: every hu­man being likes to feel that his work is important, that the boss is interested in him, and appreciates what he does. In a sense, the importance attached to Mayo's findings is a measure of the indifference to people into which management had fallen in its singleminded pursuit of Taylor's efficiency. Because of this in­difference, the deep-rooted mutual interests of workers and man­agement, as partners in production, were lost in shallow atti­tudes of suspicion and hostility. The folklore of each nourished a class warfare disturbingly like that which Marx had predicted.


The Myths of Labor & Capital


In the accepted myths of hardheaded, hardfisted management, tenderness was weakness; workers could not be "coddled" lest they loaf; the only drives to which they responded were greed (more money) or fear (of dismissal). To praise them was simply to invite increasing demands. Workers, for their part, nursed long memories of hired spies who betrayed their unions and of uni­formed thugs (e.g., the "coal & iron police") who smashed them.

In labor's mythology, management was a silk-hatted capitalist who automatically opposed anything good for the workingman; by reflex, the worker opposed anything management favored.


For Mayo's new science to make headway in this charged at­mosphere, there had to be a great change in basic attitudes. The change began with the U.S. Supreme Court's 1937 decision up­holding the Wagner Act; it made management realize it had to learn to live with unions. The change was sped by World War II, which not only brought the patriotic necessity for the U.S. in­dustrial machine to achieve maximum output, but flooded the labor force with millions of housewives and other new recruits relatively free of the old suspicions and hostilities.


Management began to learn that the once-feared unions them­selves held potentials of higher production. In Pittsburgh, the United Steel Workers challenged one management to name its most productive department. Then the union boosted produc­tion there by 210% in a month. In the Toronto plant of Lever Bros., union and management, working together, trimmed the payroll from 693 to 512, the wage bill by 17%, yet achieved greater output in a 40-hour week than in 48 before.


Moreover, housewives coming into war plants were amazed to discover that they could far exceed the normal output of old hands. At a big Cleveland war plant, one housewife found that she could easily produce 8oo grenade pins daily, v. the plant quota of 500. When fellow workers warned her to slow down. she discovered another thing: old hands deliberately limited their output from fear that Taylor's time-and-motion-study disciples would cut their pay rates by raising production quotas. More & more managers realized that maximum output could be realized only by finding ways to remove these old fears.

In dozens of plants, surveys of employees exploded the prize cliché of management's folklore-that workers wanted only more money. Actually, higher pay rated far down the list of workers' desires. For example, loo shop workers who were polled by Psychologist S.N.F. Chant on twelve alternatives rated "high pay" as sixth. The Twentieth Century Fund found that wage disputes, the ostensible cause of 8o% of all industrial conflicts, are only secondary causes: "Some of the industries most plagued by strikes . . are among those where the highest wages are being paid." After ten years of polling workers, Elmo Roper concluded that their four chief desires are I) security ("the right to work continuously at reasonably good wages"), 2) a chance to advance, 3) treatment as human beings, 4) dignity.


Yet the alarming fact, as agreed by all investigators, was that modern industry largely frustrates these desires. Detroit Edison, in a poll of its xi,ooo employees, found that 43g% did not be­lieve that the company was "really interested" in their ideas. After a study of the auto industry, Author Peter Drucker, man­agement consultant, concluded that the average worker regards his status as frozerf, with little hope of advancement, and hopes to keep his sons from doing the same work.


There was equal agreement on the causes of such widespread discontent and emotional frustration. Businesses had grown to such a size that the average worker lost all sense of personal contact with his employers. The constant increase in mechaniza­tion took away his sense of personal pride and self-identification with the final product; frequently he did not even know the use of the part he made. The robot nature of many tasks thwarted the craving for prestige; the hope of advancement was lost in the growing tendency to choose management material not from men up from the bench, but from young, college-trained technicians.


The New Managers


These discoveries came to a head at a time when U.S. manage­ment was best equipped to do something about them: manage­ment itself had undergone a revolution. Death and taxes had all but eclipsed the great owner-management dynasties epitomized by Carnegie, Ford and Rockefeller. In their place had come the professional managers, the engineer-trained technicians, e.g., Du Pont's Crawford Greenewalt, General Electric's Philip Reed, General Motors' C. E. Wilson, Standard Oil's (N.J.) Frank Abrams. They took over industrial societies grown so huge that the average owner (i.e., stockholder) seldom exercised more than theoretical control. Profits were still the test of efficiency, and a fair return to the stockholder a prime duty of management. But the tremendous diffusion of ownership enabled the professional manager to give first concern to the economic health of the whole corporate body, in which the welfare of workers was as vital as that of stockholders. Since increased welfare promised greater efficiency, the new managers welcomed experiments.


In Marion, Va., the Harwood Manufacturing Co., which had 6oo employees, mostly women, making pajamas, discovered that whenever it changed the work, only one-third of the workers ever got back to their old output rate. Many others quit, and most union grievances followed such changes. The company tried an experiment: one group was simply told of the change, another was told of the necessity for it and permitted to work out for itself the necessary revisions in quotas and rates. Result: its pro­duction quickly passed the old average of 6o hourly units per worker, and reached more than 8o. The first group barely exceed­ed 50 units, and 17% of its members shortly quit. It also filed a complaint with the union that the new rate was "unjust," al­though investigations proved it generous. Yet when the survivors of this group were trained in the new way, they went up to a score of 73 within eight days.


At Detroit's Bundy Tubing Co., which had a history of ill will against the speed-up and fear of cuts in output rates, every at­tempt to boost production by special incentives had failed. The company offered the union a novel proposal: set a certain stand­ard for labor costs, and let workers and management share all the savings when increased output drove costs below that figure. Not only did production beat all records, but the workers themselves began prodding slackers and berating absentees.


These lessons have borne fruit. In most big U.S. corporations, the new field of human relations is regarded as important, and equally as promising, as industrial research. Ford Motor Co. is spending millions to explore the untapped potentials of man. General Motors, the world's biggest industrial corporation, is drawing useful lessons from its World War II experiences.


At one G.M. aircraft parts plant, the manager almost turned down the offer of a visit by a combat-scarred B-I7 and crew; he feared it would disrupt production. Instead, output shot up, not because the workers were thrilled by the bomber, but because the maintenance crew told them for the first time what the parts they made were used for. Another G.M. plant, which had to train workers to make carbines, had each new employee shoot the actual carbine, take it apart to see the significance of the part he would make. Despite their lack of skill their output was high.


Other companies are tackling the problem of size and resulting loss of individual identity. Robert Wood Johnson, whose family's famed Johnson & Johnson had grown up as a huge plant at New Brunswick, N.J., decentralized much of it into small, new, ultra­modern factories, each making a single product line and small enough so that the president can usually call every worker by name. Not only has Johnson & Johnson been free of strikes, but the C.I.O. Textile Workers union is the first to praise its en­lightened methods.


Many plants are encouraging their workers at self-government through broadening their corporate responsibilities. Parker Pen replaced the hated time-clock with an honor system, found that tardiness virtually vanished. The Commerce Trust Co. of Kan­sas City met the time loss from the morning "coffee rush" by providing free coffee.


A new concept of the role of employers and employees in the corporation is being formed. Some examples: Pittsburgh's Wie­gand Co. lends money, interest free, to employees who need it to buy homes, etc. ; Allegheny Ludlum Steel holds "open houses" to let families see what their breadwinner does, and production goes up on visiting days; Weirton Steel now tags almost everything moving through the plant to let workers know what it will make.


The New Philosophy


Actually, far from being an occult science, human relations is nothing more than good will-and applied common sense. Much of it depends on simple things, such as making a plant more com­fortable, and a friendlier place to work. Virtually every big com­pany now sponsors plant bowling, baseball, dances, etc.; Westing­house abets employee operettas, orchestras, picnics, even shows movies in its plants during lunch hours.


Yet that does not mean that every employer has seen the prac­tit'al value of the new concept, or has accepted it. Some bitter­enders still regard any concession to the workers as a threat to their own authority. Others sometimes do more harm than good by doling out favors with an air of paternalism. Said one Kansas City industrialist: "We give our employees a Christmas party and that keeps 'em happy until we throw 'em a summer picnic." Still others have made the mistake of trying to create good human relations by mere words.


But by & large, the intent of this swiftly growing trend is not only genuine, but represents a movement toward an entirely new philosophy of management.

Nowhere has this new philosophy been better expressed than by General Foods' Chairman Clarence Francis at a postwar con­vention of the National Association of Manufacturers. Said Francis: "You can buy a man's time, you can buy a man's physi­cal presence at a given place; you can even buy a measured num­ber of skilled muscular motions per hour or day. But you cannot buy enthusiasm; you cannot buy initiative; you cannot buy loy­alty; you cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds and souls. You have to earn these things . . . It is ironic that Americans -the most advanced people technically. mechanically and indus­trially-should have waited until a comparatively recent period to inquire into the most promising single source of productivity: namely, the human will to work. It is hopeful, on the other hand, that the search is now under way."


In that search, at mid-century, lies the finest hope and promise of the Capitalist Revolution.


Reprinted from TIME, April 14 issue, Courtesy of TIME, Copyright TIME Inc., 1952.


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