Monthly Archives: October 2014

Ford Reading Reaction

In what situation would asking about the personal life of your employees be appropriate? It seems like such an intrusive practice that we wouldn’t even think of doing it today. Yet when it came to the personal lives of his employees, Ford was intent on understanding them in order to change them. By separating “profit” from “wages,” he was able to create the Five Dollar Day plan, which in some ways justified his invasive investigations. Still, some argue that his changing of the definition of profits and wages only allowed Ford to withhold money from employees whose lives he could not seem to command. For example, L. Paul Taylor noted “I believe that it is illegal to withhold a man’s wages if he has earned them, but when you call part of them ‘profits’ or a ‘bonus’ you get away with the reduction much easier” (p. 113). In my opinion, the combination of Ford’s obsession with the ideal American lifestyle and his immense power allowed him to pry into and control the lives of thousands of people. With the threat of losing a job or money, a worker would be intimidated into adhering to the “morals” defined by Ford, allowing him to gain almost complete control of the lives of his employees.

My opinions on Ford have been greatly altered by the time in which I’ve lived. Had I been around during his reign, perhaps his tactics would not seem so intrusive. Yet what I see in Ford is not someone who is trying to improve the factory conditions or the efficiency of the factory, but someone who is power-hungry and desperate to spread his own values and beliefs. When reading about Taylorism, Taylor’s goals were clear. He wanted to increase the efficiency of factories through scientific management. Although he did include ideas on the importance of choosing workers, he never seemed that interested in the lives of his workers outside of their positions in his factories. But Ford was different. Though he attempted to bribe workers to be more efficient, he offered bonus “profits” not for increased factory efficiency, but for following the approved lifestyle. This included having the proper home conditions, habits, and level of thrift. While Taylor’s work was scientific, Ford’s seems arbitrary. The extent of the investigations carried out by the Ford Sociological Department also seemed excessive, intrusive, and unnecessary. A worker could be extremely efficient within the factory and yet not live a life that is accepted by the Ford Company. Perhaps his is not thrifty enough, or lives with boarders who “disrupt the family unit,” or has “bad” habits. If it does not affect his work, it should not affect his pay. However, Ford did not think like that. He wanted his workers to behave a certain way- the “American” way. This obsession seems to me like Ford was attempting to push his beliefs onto his workers to make them more like him. His use of the Five Dollar Day was not to improve factory output, but to try to make his workers from all over the world into ideal American workers. This was an attempt to stifle the cultures of his workers and mold them into what Ford believed was right.  And that to me, is out of line.

On Five Dollar Day, Conversion from Notes

This response was again converted from an excerpt of notes and extended.


96 – Managerial Traditions, Extending Reach beyond Technical Realm

Premise of the approach is in parity with Taylor’s -handling of hedonistic satisfaction as currency permissive to investments.

Motives of the management -conclusively the iteration of hedonistic yields*- are derived from a class that has already established stasis within the system hence are granted means of retaining and leveraging their potency. Such class is likely to conceive objective empirical betterment as aim of improvement as their competitors, too, have fulfilled the satisfaction of cerebral dominance** over other individuals. With objective betterment, the competitors’ conceived power is to be debunked as subjective whims. Hence, per this basis, empirical betterment provides absolute yield as satisfaction solely if it retains means to empower dominion by mind.

If workers are to be handled, they retain no individuals through whom they can leverage cerebral dominance. Hence, the only power they have is in material realm. I assert that the sole means to affirm any power is putting it in stasis***, it is the utmost motive of workers -especially if bereft of any other instances of power- to place their material competency in stasis. The aggregate of subconscious yearnings in work would convey worker to slackening (or soldiering), and in this image of mediocre state of material effort, workers would tend to attribute stasis to their material power.

To elucidate, if any form of improvement via efficiency is suggested, such improvement would be stifled with steps:
1) Improvement would be demanding for body hence disapproved by the subconscious.
2) The conscious is motivated for retaining material power in stasis. Improvement hence presumed empowerment of material potency would denounce the stasis. Hence conscious would probably disapprove.
3) Overall, there is a resistance to improvement.

Such was the account against Taylor’s conception of improvement. As to conflate this with impracticality of extending beyond technical realm to enforce manager’s motives, managers on this case would be attempting to impose self’s motives upon workers, and managers’ motives bestow satisfaction not in such proclaimed objectivity. Premises of management are imperative for extracting satisfaction from these motives.

Thus, application of sole Taylorist efficiency via integrating non-technical levels of communication is impractical. That is, unless such integration retains expedient reprogramming of subconscious.

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* Hedonistic yield is defined as overall betterment which ultimately would provide some satisfaction for any given individual.
** Human’s innate yearning for cerebral dominance is discussed in my previous responses, most viably to Foucault.
*** Stasis is defined as eternal retention of a given state. This has the corollary that a state in stasis is in perfect position in its preliminary form, since any instance of change would evince the fact that the state is susceptible to external parameters hence does not comprise potency in itself. Still, this perfect initial state may be subject to alteration, if this alteration occurs through subconscious motives.


102-104 Shift in Rewarding and Castigation

Rewarding: Arbitrary -> Systematical
Castigation: Systematical -> Arbitrary (through no eminent institutions)

System is the epitome of potency for these workers (this case is stasis of impotence). Thus, adoption of systematical rewarding was greatly expedient.

For means of castigation, the salutary outcome is ascribed to be due to bolstering of self-discipline among the workers. I posit that it rather was due to indulgence for workers to define their impotence without having to integrate any definitions from higher institutions. Therein, this is solely driven again by satisfaction -not by a romantically advanced sense of integrity as self discipline.

To explicate the efficiency, when these two means -systematical rewarding and arbitrary castigation- converge, they form a miniscule effigy of empowerment (in worker’s perception) in the system. Within the system, the potenates are these who do adhere by the system, and conclusively, subordinate individuals can be rendered impotent merely by whims of these potenates (thus is the similitude in arbitrary castigation). Thus, in Lee’s system, worker is granted both a likeness of potentates’ power and ability to contrive impotence. This, I assert, would be the cause of the plan’s projected outcome.

The Five Dollar Day

After reading the two chapters, I really started to wonder if Ford’s method was really worth all the work, time and money it cost. The theory of scientific management seems much more practical and less time consuming. In scientific management, every step of the process did seem relevant to the industrial process to maximize output. In Ford’s system, it seems that he is spending a lot of money to investigate every part of his employee’s lives, and also imposing his own will so they act closer to company ideals, though I will expand on that later. What I don’t understand is that Ford was arguably much more successful! Ford Motors is still around today (though I doubt with the same practices of management) and it withstood the Depression and also in general the test of time. I do not know the current state of Bethlehem Steel or their current management practices, but I feel that neither practice would be effective in the long run, but scientific management should last longer or at least be more efficient. It is much more pragmatic in nature while Ford’s method is the epitome of the incentive method that  Taylor spoke about.

The main reason I find Ford’s method odd was because of how intrusive it was into the lives of employees. Not only did he investigate his employee’s private lives to regard them as “good” or not, he also was invested in how his employees spent their money. The author spends a large amount of time describing how Ford wanted employees who were thrifty, sober and saved their money. While these are good attributes, the whole point of capitalism is freedom to spend money in any way that a citizen wants. Ford’s management is akin to micromanagement, and even further it is like he is a god figure. He decided how his employees live, and if it is against his master plan they are fired. Again in theory it seems like it had success as the writer describes 3 or so success stories of men getting their lives together due to his plan. In America however, and in this day and age especially, I do not see the viability of Ford’s plan.

 

The final point which the end of the chapter touched on was the fact that immigrants were the ones that were greatly effected by Ford’s plan. The immigrant demographic makes sense as the most effective, since they need the money and will do pretty much anything for it. It also seemed that Ford wanted to instill strictly “American Values” into his employee’s, so the Five Dollar a Day method would be  the perfect way to promote his ideals of America into the new population. As previously stated, I do not believe that this method would work in today’s market, but I wonder perhaps with a similar immigrant population if it could? I also do wonder, though I bet Ford’s method did better in the long run, which management style did better Scientific or Five Dollar. It is interesting to note that after the economic boom of the Industrial and the Control Revolutions, that companies could now truly focus on how to effectively manage, a question that remains with us today.

Walker Response

The main issue addressed in the piece was the impact of Walker’s transcendent  “Statistical Analysis of the United States.” To summarize, the work was influential in that it had both political and regional views displayed on the map, making it the first of its kind. From the map, one could see the stark differences between the east and west, ranging from temperature to resources. However, I believe that the political aspect of the piece is what truly made it both memorable and innovative.
I remember once in I think US history being given maps and asked to decide the bias of each. To my primitive 11th grade self, this seemed like an odd request; how could an objective piece of data like a map possibly have a bias? The above piece, clearly seen by its political connotations, clearly proves that data can definitely push an agenda. By not mentioned the Native Americans on the map, the whole western frontier looked so open and free to move into. The west was seen as a land free for the taking and teeming with resources, further perpetuating the idea of manifest destiny. There is also a sense of authority data innately has; people assume that data was produced from reputable resources and methods and therefore should be trusted. Therefore, this piece gave Americans a scientific method for Manifest Destiny; the land was ripe for the picking.
The work reminds of the Linnaeus piece as they both emphasize the economic benefits of organization. What separates these works from the one about the Control Crisis is these works were subtlety about the economy. Linnaeus’ taxonomy is largely regarded as a scientific work, which it is, but his ultimate goal was to use science to bring new species and therefore wealth to Sweden. Likewise, this work was overtly a scientific piece, but it had the result of bringing settlers west. These passages in tandem show the manipulative tendencies that seemingly objective data can have.