Fordism: Spawning New Management Styles

Introduction. In this essay the focus is on Henry Ford and Fordism. The first paragraph of the essay is an introduction of Fredrick W Taylor, and how Fordism is derived from the ideas of Taylorism. It also looks at the main ideas behind Fordism and scientific management. Further in the essay the importance is to look at the different ideas of Fordism (the mass-production, the $5 day, the division of labour and management style), and on why it was important at is time and the effect following from those ideas.
The essay has two different paragraphs discussing the positive and the negative effects of Fordism on management and organisations, and workers and society. In the end of the essay there is some paragraphs about the new forms of management developed after Fordism, and the management styles discussed in this paragraphs are about Neo-Fordism and Post-Fordism. In the early 20th century the ideas of scientific management was created by Frederick W. Taylor, and these new ideas of management style had a big impact on the economy at that time, and for many decades following.
In this new form of management, the word efficiency became a central part of the manufacturing process. Some of the strongest characteristics of Taylorism are the division of labour, the structure of control over task performance and the implicit minimum interaction employment relationship. (Craig R Littler 1978) The new role of management was now to scientifically analyse the task that was performed in the manufacture, and then to design the jobs to eliminate all unnecessary time and motion waste.

Fordism is derived from Taylorism, and in which Fordism added some new ideas to scientific management, like the assembly line. (RMIT University2012)Fordism is a term that is used to describe mass-production using an assembly line technology to make it possible for a better division of labour and time, with motion management techniques. (RMIT University 2012). It has derived from Henry Ford (1863-1947) a car manufacturer which was perceived as the inventor of mass-production, by installing specialized machines, the flow line of assembly work and using the ideas of Taylorism (Frederick W.
Taylor) in his car-manufacture, which led to Henry Ford producing millions of identical cars at a lower production cost which made the cars more affordable. (Ray Batchelor 1994 ; Palgrave Macmillan 2012) The ideas of Taylorism that Henry Ford took into his car manufacturing were the ideas of maximising job fragmentation, minimizing of skill requirements, a minimization of handling component parts and material, separate indirect and direct labour and separate planning and doing. RMIT University2012) Fordism was important in its time, and some of the new ideas of Fordism played an significant role in change in the production, economy, and the relationship between the managers and workers. One of the main ideas of Fordism was mass-production, which made it possible to produce products at a lower cost, through spreading the fixed costs out on a large amount of outputs, and the cars could therefore be sold cheaper. Fred Thomsen 2007) Ford managed to produce practical cars which was within the reach of the average American person. (Robert J Antonio, Alessandro Bonanno 2000) One of Henry Fords main contributing to mass production was the standardization, and this had to be done at perfection, so he had to exploit in machinery tools which made is possible to use the assembly line, so every workers only had to perform one simple task. Fred Thompson 2007) At Ford’s manufacturing’s they made almost all they needed from the raw material, because he had a lot of knowledge about mass production techniques, and could therefore keep the business economic sustainable by doing all of the parts of the production in he’s own manufacture with his own workforce( even though it required more workers, which needed a lot of management to keep control over), but he also vertically integrated because Ford had a scepticism about accounting and finance, but if he did it himself he would have more control, and could easier direct the flow of raw material. Fred Thompson 2007) But whit the mass production, it was also a small differentiation in the products, in Ford’s case the cars, and one example for that was Henry Ford once saying “ you can have the car in what ever colour you like, as long as its black”. Fordism led the transformation from an agriculture to an economy growing because of mass production and mass consumption. Fred Thompson 2007)The mass production and mass consumption led to an economic growth and widespread material advancement (Fred Thomsen 2007; Robert Boyer 2010) One of the main principle of Fordism was the $5 day, which was double the normal pay and working less hours for those who were qualified, so the workers would stay loyal and work efficient, but also so his own workers would be able to afford the car he was producing, and the demand for Ford cars would increase.
But for the workers to be qualified they had to have a satisfactory life-stile, like absence from alcohol (RMIT University 2012) But the $5 day was criticised, from example the socialist daily news people, saying is was a scheme to make it difficult for the competitors, but in the general public the $5 days was perceived as a risky move, but also bold, democratic and magnanimous. (Ray Batchelor 1994) It have also been said that Fordism and it higher wages led to productivity growth, economic growth but also an inflation growth. Mark Goodwin, Joe Painter1996) The higher wages was also created so the efficient and good workers still wanted to work in the Ford manufacturing with the new type of management. In Fordism it was a managerial hierarchy (top-bottom), technical controls and strict time-limits, and every task was separated into their simplest constituent elements, making the work routinized. (Robert J Antonio, Alessandro Bonanno, 2000; RMIT University 2012) But the work task of speeding it all up and making every work task easy led to a deskilling of the workers, and have been criticised on humanistic grounds. RMIT Universit 2012; F. Xu, T. Rickards 2007) With the deskilling of the workers the managers perceived the workers as stupid, and therefore all the decision making was taken away from them, and they were treated like replaceable parts of the machinery. (F. Xu, T. Rickards 2007) Fords business got the affect of the cooperation costs, because with the deskilling of workers, and wanting to have control over the quantity and quality over the workers performance, they needed to hire management to conduct those jobs, which were extra expenses. RMIT University 2012) And with the workers constantly being controlled and supervised, the relationship between the managers and the workers became tense and the workers lost commitment to Fords manufacture, because they were frustrated and dissatisfy, but this led to management having to control the workers even more. (RMIT University 2012) It is important to highlight that there were positive affects from Fordism on the society and worker, and on management and organisation. For rganisations Henry Ford showed that products could be produced a lot more efficient by using machinery and technology, which led to a lower fixed production cost and firms could therefore make a bigger profit and get a bigger market share (Fred Thompson 2007) Ford kept continuous to improve the production on the car manufacturing process, as with for example the car T-model, where he had studied the shortest task cycle of the T-model assembly line, which reduced human effort that led to increased productivity level while reducing the production costs. Greg Grandin 2009) Henry Ford needed a lot of management staff in his business to achieve control over the workers and because he was running the business vertically integrated he needed more managing staff, which meant a higher form of bureaucratization, which set the steps for modern corporations, and in some cases even for local government. (Mark Goodwin and Joe Painter 1996) In the view of the society and workers Fordism gave them some positive contributions.
As mentioned Henry Ford doubled the pay, the $5 day, and he reduced the working day down to eight hours, and he reduced the working week down to five days for the workers that was qualified and lived by a good lifestyle. (RMIT University 2012) This started a cycle of high real income which led to the mass consumption , and increased the demand for goods, as well as the car Henry Ford him self were producing. (RMIT University 2012) Also with letting his workers work less hours per week, they had extra time on hand which led to the start of a new industry which were focused on leisure.
Fordism also had negative effects on management and organisation, and workers and society. After Fordism had lasted for a while in The USA, were Fordism originated from, the production growth and economic growth started to decline in the 1960s for various factors, but one of the main reasons were that the durable consumer goods and process technologies had entered the maturity phase of the life-cycle and they were not able to find any new mass markets which led to stagnation in growth and decline in jobs. (annemieke J.
M. Roobeek 1987) Since one of the main concepts of Fordism was mass-production, it led to a major crisis because of the constrains of productivity slow down. (Robert Boyer 2010) As for the workers under Fordism they had to perform heavy workloads on rotation of relatively unskilled, repetitive tasks and with a assembly line that was speeded up as fast as it could contributed to a highly stressful work environment. (S. Edgell 2006) The new work tasks for the workers also led to a deskilling of the workers. RMIT University 2012) The deskilling of workers was highly criticized, even by Frederick W Taylor, saying that Fords assembly line workers assembled gorillas. (Fred Thompson 2007) Fordism had some positive and negative aspects on management, but after Fordism hit the crisis of production slowdown in the 1960s it was clear that some changes had to be done, and the Hawthorn experiment that were conducted in the 1920s showed cleared in the experiment that one of the main issues were tha workers also had physiological and social needs in the work place, which should be included in a new form of management style. RMIT University 2012; Robert Boyer 2010) The first alternative developed was Neo-Fordism, which were later followed by Post-Fordism. (RMIT University 2012) Neo-Fordism was build up on modifications on Fordism, rather than abandon all the original ideas of Fordism. Some of the areas of Fordism that was modified were on the simplification and fragmentation of work, the control over the workers time limits working via the assembly line, and there were no longer a standardization of products and parts via single purpose machines. S. Edgell 2006) In Neo-Fordism the working practice were flexible to fit the contemporary operations work . (RMIT University 2012) One of the first car manufacturers that modified the ideas of Fordism into Neo-Fordism was the Swedish car company Volvo, which included a greater job rotation for the workers, with extended work tasks, as responsibility for the quality, which gave the workers job enlargement and they got to cooperate together as a work team. S. Edgell 2006) In the Volvo car manufacture the process of destandardization of the products and parts was achieved because of their flexible carrier system, which made it possible for the work rotation, team work, but the work stations were still divided into different station as in Fordism and Taylorism and they still used the time limits.
Volvos attempt to re-organise their production was successful at many areas, the workers working conditions got better which led to a better job satisfaction among them, and the quality of work increased and they still managed to have the same times on their assembly lines. (S. Edgell 2006) Post-Fordism, also know as after Fordism was a new type of management that did not build on Fordism, but who broke with the main concepts of it, and focused on flexible specialisation instead. (S. Edgell 2006) The perspective of Post-Fordism was to focus on the need of flexibility, with innovation being of importance. John Mathews 1989) In Fordism the focus were on mass production, via special purpose machines and assembly line to get the mass production of standardized products, which also led to the deskilling of workers, Post-Fordism on the other hand is focused on flexibility and the skills of the workers to make high-quality customized products. (S. Edgell 2006) Post-Fordism is different from the competing Neo-Fordism because it is based on the skill inputs of the workers and the workers high level of responsibility, whereas in Neo-Fordism the focus is one improving the recognition and social cohesion of the work while using the ideas of Fordism. John Mathews 1989; RMIT University 2012) Post-Fordism have put the focus on the skilled worker, but the danger that comes with that is the threat of dualization, with a big class different between a skilled worker and the mass of unskilled workers. (John Mathews 1989) In Post-Fordism the focus is on the skilled workers, and skilled workers can use computer technology to adjust production in responds to demand quickly, and will therefore avoid some of the main problems of Fordism. To Be able to succeed in a competitive and ever-changing environment, flexibility is one character of main importance. S Edgell 2006) Conclusion: The history of Fordism shows us a management style that worked on some areas and failed in others. The production became more efficient, which made it more profitable for the owners, which also led to lower priced products and the introduction of the $5 wages. Fordism brought with it mass production which led to mass consumption, and formed an economic growth in the society. But while people were able to earn more money and consume more, it also had a negative aspect of deskilling the workers, and who also had to work under though working conditions physically and socially.
In the 1960s it was productivity slow down, and even though they could still mass-produce, the market didn’t longer have a big demand for it. When the crises of Fordism hit, new styles of management were developed, some just modifying Fordism, as Neo-Fordism and some styles that completely broke of with the ideas of Fordism, as Post-Fordism. In these new forms of management, the workers became a central part. Neo-Fordism kept many of the ideas of Fordism, but changed the ideas around the working environment, so the workers would be physically and socially satisfied.
Post-Fordism has showed a complete difference from Fordism, and is more focused on flexibility and the skills of the workers and customized highly qualified products. Fordism was good in many areas in it prime time, because it led to a economic growth, but as time goes by it brings changes to the economy and the need of society, which means that management styles should changes with it, and adapt to make it work. Reference list: •RMIT University (Ed). 2012. ‘Introduction to Management’. Palgrave Macmillan, South Melborune. •Grandin, G 2009. Forlandia; The rise and fall of Henry Ford’s forgotten jungle city’, Metropolian Books, New York. •Matthews, J 1989, ‘Ages of Democracy; the politics of Post-Fordism’, Oxford University Press, Normanby Rd, SA. •Edgell, S 2006, ‘The sociology of work: Continuity and change in paid and upaid work’, Sage, Thousand Oaks, London •Goodwin, M, Painter, J 1996, ‘Local governance, the crises of Fordism and the changing geographies of Regulation’, Transaction of the institute of British Geographers, new series, vol 21, No 4, pp 635-648, Wiley Blackwell •Boyer, R 2010, ‘Is a financial-led growth regime a viable alternative to Fordism?
A Preliminary analysis’ [https://dx. doi. org/10. 1080/030851400360587] •Xu, F, Rickards, T 2007, ‘Creative Management: A predicted development from research into creativity and management’, Creativity and innovation Management pp 216-228 •Thompson, F 2007, ‘Fordism, Post-Fordism and the flexible system of production’, viewed 29. September 2012. [http://www. willamette. du/~fthompso/MgmtCon/Fordism_%26_Postfordism. html] •Batchelor, R 1994, ‘Henry Ford, mass production, modernism and design’, Manchester University Press, Oxford Rd, Manchester •Antonio, RJ, Bonanno, A 2000, ‘A new global Capitalism? : “Americanism and Fordism” to “Americanization-Globalization”, pp 33. 77 [https://ojsprdap. vm. ku. edu/index. php/amerstud/article/viewFile/3102/3061]

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