Management

Influence on planned economies

Scientific management was naturally appealing to managers of planned economies, because central economic planning relies on the idea that the expenses that go into economic production can be precisely predicted and can be optimized by design. The opposite theoretical pole would be an extremist variant of laissez-faire thinking in which the invisible hand of free markets is the only possible "designer". In reality most economies today are somewhere in between. [edit]Soviet Union In the Soviet Union, Taylorism was advocated by Aleksei Gastev and nauchnaia organizatsia truda (the movement for the scientific organisation of labor). It found support in both Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. Gastev continued to promote this system of labor management until his arrest and execution in 1939. Historian Thomas P. Hughes has detailed the way in which the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s enthusiastically embraced Fordism and Taylorism, importing American experts in both fields as well as American engineering firms to build parts of its new industrial infrastructure. The concepts of the Five Year Plan and the centrally planned economy can be traced directly to the influence of Taylorism on Soviet thinking. Hughes quotes Joseph Stalin: American efficiency is that indomitable force which neither knows nor recognises obstacles; which continues on a task once started until it is finished, even if it is a minor task; and without which serious constructive work is impossible.... The combination of the Russian revolutionary sweep with American efficiency is the essence of Leninism. Hughes offers the equation "Taylorismus + Fordismus = Amerikanismus" to describe the Soviet view. Sorensen (1956)[2

] recounted his experience as one of the American consultants bringing Ford know-how (although he himself would not have called it Ford-ism) to the USSR during this brief era, before the Cold War made such exchanges unthinkable. As the Soviet Union developed and grew in power, both sides, the Soviets and the Americans, chose to ignore or deny the contribution that American ideas and expertise had made: the Soviets because they wished to portray themselves as creators of their own destiny and not indebted to a rival, and the Americans because they did not wish to acknowledge their part in creating a powerful communist rival. Anti-communism had always enjoyed widespread popularity in America, and anti-capitalism in Russia, but after World War II, they precluded any admission by either side that technologies or ideas might be either freely shared or clandestinely stolen. [edit]East Germany East German machine tool builders, 1953. The German Federal Archives contain documentation created by the German Democratic Republic as it sought to increase efficiency in its industrial sectors. In the accompanying photograph, workers discuss standards that have recently been created specifying how each task should be done and how long it should take. By the 1950s, Taylor's original form of scientific management (and the name "scientific management" itself) had grown dated, but the goals and themes remained attractive and found new avatars. The workers in the photograph were engaged in a state-planned instance of process improvement, but they were essentially pursuing the same goals that were also contemporaneously pursued in the Free World by people like the developers of the Toyota Production System.