Work (business administration)

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Work in the sense of business administration is any planned and appropriate activity of a worker in physical and mental form, which serves to produce goods or services in a company .


In business administration as early as 1922, the peculiarities of human work were discussed, emphasizing the value-adding character of human work. Heinrich Nicklisch was of the opinion that only with capital , the company may not achieve its targets - it needed human labor and cooperation based on division of labor . As a result, a company could actually also be called a labor company. For him, wages and salaries were not costs , but successes distributed ex ante . In the meantime, the structure made by Erich Gutenberg in 1951 can be regarded as generally accepted. According to Gutenberg's classic division, work is one of the three elementary operational production factors work, operating resources (such as land , buildings , machines , tools ) and materials ( raw materials , consumables and supplies ) (the latter are combined in economics to form capital). The production factors used ( English input ) are transformed into marketable end products ( English output ) in a transformation process ( English throughput ) - called production .

As early as 1958, Gutenberg pointed out that human work performance in a company was determined by his abilities and his drive. Abilities were his physical, mental and emotional capacities, by drives he understood a “positive attitude towards work” (ie work motivation ). He calls these factors subjective working conditions , while objective working conditions include work technique , workplace design and break regulations .

As a planned activity, the work transforms a work object into an ideally predetermined, desired work result , which represents a marketable product. The work object is a combination of material (raw, auxiliary and operating materials , office supplies ) and immaterial goods ( information , work instructions , decisions ) that are converted into a marketable product as part of a work process. In the work process, work aids (so-called potential factors ) can be used repetitively that support human work performance, but without going into the product themselves (e.g. tools, computers).

Origin of the term

The word work comes from the Old High German arabeit , meaning still in Middle High German "hardship", "emergency" or "distress" and was clearly negative occupied . The focus was on the effort involved in the work. It was not until the New High German that the meaning narrowed, which led to the fact that work could be described as a planned and appropriate activity and its products. Christian Wolff was one of the first to introduce a contemporary concept of work in the year of his death in 1754: “The tasks that a person undertakes to acquire temporal assets are called work”.


Work can be divided into object-related (design of a product in the work process) and executive and dispositive human work . The latter is also referred to as the dispositive factor , the task of which is to bring together and combine the elementary production factors. “Object-related work” is used when human abilities and skills are used directly for the creation of services (= production ), service utilization (= sales ) and financial processing (= finances ). Dispositive work is the task of corporate management with planning , organization and control . Work is thus used both as an object-related elementary factor and as a dispositive factor in the company.

A distinction is also made between

  • physical or mental work (type of activity),
  • managerial or executive work (ranking),
  • unskilled , semi-skilled and skilled work (previous education),
  • Self-employed or employed work (classification under tax law).

Physical and mental work is regularly combined; their division is decided according to the focus of the activity. By exercising control and decision-making tasks, executive work is also increasingly entrusted with management tasks ( job enrichment ). Unskilled and semi-skilled workers have no completed vocational training , semi- skilled workers have limited training (between three months and less than two years), and unskilled workers can prove neither vocational training nor a semi-skilled worker . The tax classification differentiates according to how high the level of authority is.

The work (task) is inextricably linked with the person of the worker, so that work is a scarce factor of production in business administration as well. He therefore has a price in the form of remuneration (wages, salaries, commission, fee). In employment consist labor law two main obligations, namely the obligation to work performance by the employee and the obligation to pay by the employer .

Work in study

The REFA Association defines work in the sense of work studies as

"Work in the sense of work studies is the fulfillment of the task of a work system through the interaction of people and equipment with the object of work"


The division into (predominantly) muscular and (predominantly) intellectual work is becoming less and less important in the course of mechanization, although even today there are work tasks that place considerable demands on the physique of the worker. Wolfgang Laurig breaks down the work tasks

method according to Laurig
Energetic work
(generating and releasing forces)
Informational work
(processing and generating information)
muscular work sensorimotor work reactive work combinatorial work creative work
How is the task characterized? Auxiliary question: What is required of people? Release of muscle forces, often as "work" in the sense of mechanics, d. H. Movement of masses through muscle power Carry out hand and / or arm movements with a certain accuracy, forces are not important Record and process information, react if necessary Take in, process, convert and transfer information into other information Generate information and submit if necessary.
How is the effect characterized? Auxiliary question: Which organs are mainly used by the work task? Muscles, tendons, circulation, respiration, skeleton Muscles, tendons, sensory organs Sensory organs (muscles) Sense organs, "mental faculties" "mental abilities"
Examples Carrying loads, shoveling sand Assembly work, knitting Control, monitor Telephoning, programming Inventing, solving problems

The work study divides the term work into three categories:

  • The work process describes the technical means that are used to carry out the work task.
  • the working method describes the target process that must be fulfilled to complete the task.
  • The working method, in turn, is the individual execution of the work task by the respective worker.

This tripartite division is part of a time study and is therefore a central part of job evaluation .

Key figures for the labor factor

There are also business indicators for work. Since labor is a production factor, the maximum factor output can also be determined. Under working capacity is defined as the maximum possible production amount a worker in a particular work can produce:

The use of labor during working hours leads to economic effects of the work. However, labor and working hours are not just economic terms, they also belong in physics , sociology , labor law and other specialist areas . If a person can pack 120 packages in piece work within one hour , the maximum work volume in eight hours is 960 packages. The operational target can be based on this. The labor productivity represents the turnover of a company's total number of its employees over:

The labor productivity per employee is higher, the more turnover is attributable to him.

The work intensity reflects the relationship between work performance and working hours:

If the person packs a total of 140 packages an hour instead of 120 packages, the work intensity has increased.

Work as social capital and human capital

Since people cannot be separated from their work performance, in addition to financial and performance-related goals, social goals play a prominent role in human resource management . Here, people in the company are understood as participants in social networks , whose mutual relationships are referred to as social capital . The specialist knowledge acquired by employees in the work process is in turn referred to as human capital . It was created on the basis of previous training, in particular through internal and external training as well as learning by doing as experience gained in the work process.

Influencing variables

In the context of business administration, it is examined in particular which factors influence work performance and how a company should design them.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Heinrich Nicklisch , Wirtschaftliche Betriebslehre , 1922, pp. 1–4
  2. ^ Heinrich Nicklisch, Wirtschaftliche Betriebslehre , p. 80
  3. Erich Gutenberg: Introduction to Business Administration , 1958, p. 57 ( limited preview in the Google book search)
  4. Erich Gutenberg, Introduction to Business Administration , p. 59
  5. Wolfgang Lück (Ed.), Lexikon der Betriebswirtschaft , 1988, p. 78 ff.
  6. Ulrike Köbler: Becoming, changing and being of the German private law vocabulary . 2010, p. 268 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  7. Fabian Bross, Basic Course in German Linguistics for the Bavarian State Examination , 2014, p. 172
  8. ^ Christian Wolff , Principles of Natural and International Law , 1754, § 523, p. 356
  9. ^ Sönke Peters, Rolf Brühl, Johannes N. Stelling: Introduction to Business Administration . 2005, p. 121 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  10. ^ Hermann Witte: General Business Administration . 2008, p. 114 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  11. Hermann Witte, General Business Administration , 2008, p. 114
  12. Erich Gutenberg, Fundamentals of Business Administration , Volume 1, Die Produktion , 1983, pp. 3, 11 ff.
  13. REFA (1971) Methodology of Work Studies, Part 1 Basics; Carl Hanser, Munich ( ISBN 3-446-14234-7 ), p. 12 ff.
  14. a b Wolfgang Laurig (1982) Broad ergonomics, introduction , 2nd edition, Beuth Verlag GmbH, Berlin; cited in REFA (1984) Methodology of Working Studies: Part 1, Basics , Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich ISBN 3-446-14234-7 ; P. 132
  15. REFA (1984) Methodology of Working Studies - Part 1: Basics , Carl-Hanser-Verlag, Munich, ISBN 3-446-14234-7 ; P. 107
  16. Gabler's Wirtschaftslexikon, Volume 1, 2nd ed. 1983, Col. 233
  17. ^ Sönke Peters / Johannes N. Stelling, Introduction to Business Administration , 2005, p. 157
  18. ^ Corsten: Production Management . 6th edition, pp. 230-233