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The New Ruthless Economy Essay

2303 words - 10 pages

In the past 20 years the economy of the United States has gone through many drastic changes. There are economists who are argue that many of the changes we that have happened, have been for the good. However, Simon Head wrote “The New Ruthless Economy” with the intention of debunking certain theories about the booming economy, and directly opposing the idea that many changes in the workforce undergone in the past 20 years have been detrimental to the economy itself. The first main idea of the book is the correlation that is drawn between stagnant worker wages and the rise of information technology in the 1990s. A commonly held belief is that information technology is one of the major ...view middle of the document...

Through this, the economy has never changed; it is simply a “new age of mass production and a new age of scientific management (p6).” Head argues that with computer business systems in place, decentralization of skill begins to occur in the workplace, thus giving the company more power and control over things such as wages, benefits, and even scheduling. The only way to prove that this devaluing of skill led to the stagnation of worker wages was to do engage in case studies at actual manufacturing plants and studying the effect of reengineering or ERPs. It was found that employee job insecurity was significantly higher than in past years during a time of economic recession. I believe a point that Head is trying to make is that we have come full circle in the American economy. The workforce really started taking off with the implementation of Scientific Management by Taylor, then followed by the assembly line principles by Henry Ford. In the past 80 years of mass production, one thing that has changed is how we do business and how we exchange information. How we treat the workers and actually output a product has remained shockingly similar to the way it was done in 1910. There is a large discussion in this book on the history of the mass production (manufacturing) industry. The beginning of mass production is talked about from when the principles of Scientific Management were first trying to be integrated into the workplace. Even further back Head talks about the developing methods of mass production in the metal-working industries in the 19th and early 20th century, by both technology and org369anization. These methods were used to help develop automatic machines that were able to increase output and sets of standards and measurements to help improve speed and efficiency within the organization. These “cost efficient” methods were not quite effective in their early stage, but took off tremendously, first starting with previously mentioned Taylor, then with the Ford T-Model automobile in 1914. “The ideal of scientific management was to achieve machine-like standards of speed and reliability with the routines of the workforce (p23).” The book talks about how workers have always been subject to certain time constraints or something similar to where it adds extra stress to the job and/or makes the job mind numbingly repetitive. The invention of the slide rule was one of the first examples of business application software. So, at the beginning of the manufacturing industry we already have ways being developed in order to exploit the workers and make them into machines themselves in order to produce the greatest profit margin for the company. We will fast forward to the 1990s where Simon Head found himself inside of a Nissan automobile plant. There was mind numbing repetitiveness and a great deal of that stress imposed upon the workers. After reviewing the manuals for the plant, he deemed them comparable to Taylor’s manuals or “blue books,” that...

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