Division of labor
Division of labor is an element of cooperation and primarily describes the process of dividing work among people. In a figurative sense, the term is also applied to activities or actions of other living beings or systems. Work-sharing structures are, for example:
- Biology : multicellular cells , insect states like ants or bees
- Human : families , businesses , castes , economies, and supply chains
- Science : Organization , development from unicellular to multicellular
- Technology : microcontroller
At least two actors are necessary for the division of labor, for example in the brood care of the black cockatoo . In the industrial societies of man, the division of labor through specialization is very pronounced and is continuously diversifying. There are currently around 24,000 professions in Germany .
Origin of the term
Adam Smith described the term division of labor in the first chapter of his work The Wealth of Nations , published in 1776 . He headed this chapter with The division of labor , thereby circulating a catchphrase that became equally important for economics and science. Translated, this means “The division of work”. From this, the word "Arbeit-s -teilung" arose in German through word composition . In grammar, the "s" is referred to as the joint element .
- Word origin
- Germanic: arbaiþis, Gothic: arbaiþs, Old High German: arapeit, Middle High German: arebeit, Arbeit = effort, difficulty, suffering, probably common origin with Old Church Slavonic работа (rabota: hardship, slavery)
- Derivation of the noun from the stem of the verb “share” with the derivative (derivation morpheme) -ung
Meanings: Decomposition or division of a unit or quantity into at least two components
Types of division of labor
In connection with Karl Bücher ( The emergence of the national economy ), several, usually overlapping forms of division of labor can be distinguished:
- gender division of labor
- the division of various tasks between men and women is one of the oldest forms of division of labor; work union takes place, for example, through reciprocity in the family; it is roughly the division between reproductive tasks assigned to women and productive tasks assigned to men ( cf. gender role , breadwinner model ).
- Vocational training
- the specialization of producers and production facilities in the production of certain types of goods and services . Blacksmiths and healers / shamans are likely to have been among the oldest professions ; the labor association takes place through trade (e.g. through traveling trade, on markets, as barter or by means of money) or through central redistribution ( redistributive tribal economy , redistributive palace economy ).
- Professional split
- the further specialization within existing professional or trade groups on sub-types of goods and services: blacksmiths are z. B. to blacksmiths, coppersmiths, sword sweepers , etc., the labor association takes place, for example, in markets via barter.
- Work breakdown (also operational division of labor)
- the division of a single production process into various sub-processes that are carried out by specialized workers within a single production facility ( see manufacture ); the work association takes place via the operational (fiscal, entrepreneurial) process organization; A distinction is made between type division - in which each individual only takes on part of the work processes (as in Adam Smith's "pin example") - and quantity division - in which all participants carry out all work processes, but not on all work items. One example is the breakdown of work according to age , often in craft businesses, when physically strenuous parts are assigned to the younger ones.
- Division of production (also inter-company division of labor)
- the division of a production process into various sub-processes that take place in different (economically independent or dependent) production facilities; the work union takes place via the operational process organization ( see Oikos ) or market exchange .
- regional division of labor
- the specialization of individual regions in the production of certain goods and services; the labor association takes place, for example, via long-distance trade .
- international division of labor
- the specialization of individual nations in the production of certain goods and services; the labor association takes place on foreign trade , the z. B. forced trade ( see colonialism ) or free trade .
- national division of labor
- a distinction is made here
- vertical specialization
- here the specialized companies follow one another. (Example: The raw materials obtained from primary production (agriculture and forestry) are treated and processed by production (industry and handicrafts) into consumption or capital goods, with service companies in between.)
- horizontal specialization
- means special economic levels at which the companies provide different services at the same level (e.g. in the clothing industry underwear, ladies' outerwear, children's shoes).
There are also the following subdivisions:
- family division of labor
- within a partnership or family ( see compatibility of family and work ), with the egalitarian division of labor denoting a symmetrical division of tasks ( see double provider model )
- social division of labor
- between people, development of individual professions - see also social differentiation
- economic division of labor
- in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors ( see business sector )
- territorial division of labor
- for rooms with different natural and / or socio-cultural conditions. If each region produces the most favorable product for them, efficiency can be increased and thus greater economic growth can be achieved. In order to increase productivity, however, international (foreign) trade is required to exchange goods, goods and services
- biological division of labor
- Differentiation within organisms and between organisms ( symbiosis ). This is also known as the division of functions.
In management theory
In production management , as a sub-area of management theory, a distinction is made between the modal division of work, for example according to quantity and type, to several people or resources. Accordingly, between the amount of division and a Artteilung distinguished. Likewise, work can also be divided into different phases, for example in project work and also in production work in the phases of planning, preparation and execution.
In the case of a quantity division, work is divided up in such a way that every person or every resource carries out the entire workflow on a subset. The goal is to complete the work order in a shorter time through this type of division.
In the case of species division, work is divided up in such a way that each person or each resource only carries out part of the work process from the total amount. The goal is to increase the volume and quality through specialization.
The phase division contributes to the fact that, according to the different requirements for qualifications for planning and execution, it can be divided between persons and, if necessary, cost centers with different specific costs for the work performance.
In the social sciences and in economics
In economics, the division of labor is understood to mean any form of dividing the social production of goods into different sub-processes, which are then carried out by different economic units (producers, production facilities, regions). Every form of division of labor presupposes a corresponding form of labor association, i.e. the social organization of the coordination of the various sub-processes.
Plato already explained the emergence of society in his Politeia by saying that people have different productive abilities and needs and that they therefore best specialize in their work and exchange work products with one another.
Economy of the Enlightenment: Montesquieu, Turgot, Quesnay
Apparently, Bernard Mandeville first used the expression “division of labor” in 1714 in his “Bienenfabel” ( division of labor ). Once you have taken on a task habitually, you hardly make any mistakes in performing it.
Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu saw the money economy as an essential prerequisite for exchange and thus for the division of labor, but was more interested in the cohesion of society than in its differentiation. In his model of the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches, he ties in with the idea of a division of labor.
For Turgot , it was the diversity of natural products that gave the impetus to a cycle of mutual exchange of indispensable commodities between the peasants and thus formed the unifying bond of society.
François Quesnay , the discoverer of the economic cycle, described the division of labor between the large sectors of agriculture, manufacture and trade, but attributed a productive role to agriculture alone, since the products of the manufacture were almost entirely consumed by the nobility and clergy.
Scottish Moral Philosophy: Adam Ferguson and Adam Smith
The Scottish moral philosophy ties in with Montesquieu and the phaysiocrats like François Quesnay as well as with the thoughts of David Hume ; For the first time, their representatives are also interested in the social consequences of the division of labor and the emergence of social stratification. This is especially true for Adam Ferguson , who sees the division of labor as a means of social and professional differentiation.
Adam Smith stressed that the division of labor does not destroy the community, it only changes the quality and means of interdependence. He was particularly interested in the technically mediated division of labor in the company; but he also implicitly raised the question of the emergence of social classes. For Adam Smith, the initially purely economic process of division of labor necessarily gave rise to three classes (although he did not use this term): those of landowners, capitalists and workers, each characterized by the type of their income (rent, capital gains and wages).
According to Smith, the division of labor increases the productivity of labor. There are three main reasons for this:
- Specialization and thus promotion of the "greater skill of each individual worker"
- Time saving
- Technical progress
A human tendency to exchange is assumed. Specialization has the effect that actors (people, companies, countries) concentrate on that part of the entire production process in which they have comparative advantages. Each actor can now use the time and effort that he had to spend on other sub-activities solely for those sub-activities in which he is particularly productive. This applies to both national and international division of labor ( cf. the theory of comparative cost advantages according to David Ricardo ).
Smith explained the time savings in his famous pin example:
A single unskilled worker can only make a few pins in a day. If the work is divided into several steps (pulling the wire, pinching, sharpening, putting the head on it, packing ...), five workers, for example, can produce thousands of pins in a day.
The technological progress arises from the fact that individual parts can be easily improved a production process. According to today's view, the organization of production that has changed due to the division of labor and the resulting gain in productivity are already “technical progress”.
Division of labor requires a coordination of economic activities. The individual branches of production are highly dependent on one another and have to coordinate their production plans. In a market economy , price-controlled markets and organizations (market-technical and hierarchical coordination, see: Transaction Cost Theory) fulfill this function of coordination.
According to Adam Smith, specialization is limited by "the size of the market". This expression can be applied to both the demand and the supply side. On the demand side, extensive specialization may not be necessary in small markets, since additional output cannot be sold anyway. On the supply side, specialization can be limited by the number of workers.
However, Smith also recognizes some dangers of the division of labor. People become stupid if they only do a single movement over and over again. The professional satisfaction through a comprehensive activity is no longer given through simple and monotonous movements. As a countermeasure, he calls for improved training. It also illustrates the problems of mental specialization, such as a when a philosopher can be so arrogant that he with a load carrier detect no resemblance.
For Karl Marx , institutions such as the division of labor, exchange and private property, contract and market are mutually dependent and must be at least rudimentary in order for a system of commodity production to get going. The starting point of the division of labor is natural (e.g. due to gender differences), but it becomes a social division of labor through the transformation of the labor product into a commodity, which in turn enables the capitalist to have unlimited disposal of labor in the company.
“In the totality of the various use-values or commodities, there appears a totality of just as diverse, according to genus, species, family, subspecies, variety of different useful labor - a social division of labor. It is the condition of existence of commodity production, although commodity production is not conversely the condition of existence of the social division of labor. In the ancient Indian community, work is socially divided without the products becoming commodities. Or, a closer example, in every factory the work is systematically divided, but this division is not mediated by the fact that the workers exchange their individual products. Only products of independent and independent private work face each other as goods. "
The market-based exchange creates the co-ordination connection between private work in society as a whole and reduces its concrete forms to “abstract work” and thus the exchange value of goods to their social value, which represents the socially necessary working time.
Based on this theoretical insight, Marx criticizes that Adam Smith (1723–1790) overlooked the social character of private work:
"The emphasis here is on the change brought about by the division of labor , namely that wealth no longer consists in the product of one's own labor, but in the quantity of foreign labor that commands this product, of social labor that can buy it Quantum is determined by the quantum of the labor contained in itself. In fact, only the concept of exchange value is included here, namely that my work only determines my wealth as a social and therefore its product as a command over an equal amount of social work. The emphasis here is on the respect with the division of labor and exchange value equating my work and foreign labor, in Andren words social work (that also my work or the work contained in my goods already socially determined and character changed significantly, escapes Adamen). "
The division of labor, which makes the producer's work just as one-sided as his needs multifaceted, transforms the product of labor into commodity and thus requires it to be transformed into money. "Social power becomes the private power of the private person."
An economy based on the division of labor is a form of economy in which every person concentrates and specializes in certain areas of work, but is only limited and inefficient in others. In those areas of work in which a person specializes, however, that person is productive to a higher degree. For Marx, in particular, the capitalist mode of production, in which wage-dependent labor is opposed to capital and is exploited in this class relationship, leads to the alienation of the producer from his product. Marx also viewed the division into increasingly specialized work steps critically. The worker is alienated from the product of his work and is generally exposed to inhumane working conditions. In addition, the increased use of unskilled labor reduces the importance of the individual worker. In the earlier production methods of the independent craftsmen, each individual producer had a special meaning due to the skills he had learned over the years. This disappears with increasing specialization. The individual worker is just a small cog in the big system - or an organ . The capital owner can generate more profit from his product thanks to the lower labor costs . The surplus value of the product increases, the power of the worker decreases, exploitation can increase.
Herbert Spencer analyzed the division of labor in the treatise Specialization of Functions and Division of Labor from the work 'Principles of Sociology' (from 1877) as a natural result of social evolution and regional differences.
From a state perspective, Johann Karl Rodbertus introduced the aspect of the division of the product as an essential consequence of the social division of labor. Finally, in political economy it is not the increase in production, the increase in national wealth, which, as it were, make up the other essential half of the concept, but the distribution of the product produced by collective labor. The division of labor could just as well be called division of what has been worked out, for this concept is only the necessary complement to the former .
Gustav von Schmoller
Gustav von Schmoller addressed the topic of division of labor in two essays. After his death the work The Social Question - Class Formation, Worker Question, Class Struggle was published . In addition to a historically differentiated presentation of the development of the division of labor, it contains statements for the first time that indicate a kind of basic livelihood as a prerequisite:
- Mainly, however, if a full division of labor is to take place somewhere, social institutions must provide for the maintenance, food, clothing and housing of those who devote all their labor to others.
Karl Bücher was the first to develop a typology of different forms of work decomposition and integration. He differentiates between
- Work breakdown
- Shifting work from people to machines
- Division of production: the goods pass through different plants
- Work union of several activities in one hand or in one machine
- Working group (in modern terms: "teamwork")
- Chaining work through a common rhythm
- Working combination of separate activities that cannot be brought together (e.g. blacksmith and bellows, later called "structured cooperation")
In his work De la division du travail social (1893) Émile Durkheim described in the volume and density of a population the causal factors that drive the transition from a simple type of society, which is characterized by “mechanical solidarity”, to a complex type Create a society that is characterized by "organic solidarity". Their basis is the division of labor, which guarantees both the independence of the individual in the event of increased interdependence or mutual dependence and thus strengthens the social cohesion of the society concerned.
What all three works have in common is the main goal of resolving the contradiction between increasing individualization and the collective cohesion of society. In addition, each author uses a thought model of division as a basis, in which a homogeneous whole develops over a period of time into a heterogeneous collection of individual parts, which in turn forms a (higher) whole. The differences start with the assignment of this simple model: This whole can be the amount of possible activities for the preservation of society (Spencer), the amount of all previously existing activities (Durkheim) or the amount of interests and ideas of an individual (Simmel).
Gary Becker, Kevin M. Murphy
According to Gary Becker and Kevin M. Murphy (1992), increasing specialization goes hand in hand with a disproportionate increase in coordination costs. As a result, there are limits to specialization that result from the control of the activities of specialized workers. In many contexts, this reason may well be more important than the “size of the market”. The approach also provides an explanation for the organization of companies and industries: when market coordination is cheaper, companies specialize in certain tasks. Otherwise, workers within a company would specialize. Since transport costs can play a large part in the coordination costs between companies, this approach explains, for example, why more specialized companies can be found in larger cities or why certain industries are concentrated in the same locations.
Comparison of theory
The object of division
Based on the idea of division common to all authors, the individual aspects of this division are considered in the following, in order to identify the different facets of the examined terms division of labor , specialization of functions (Spencer), division du travail social (Durkheim) and social differentiation ( Simmel).
The clearest statement about the object of division can be found in Herbert Spencer . Specialization of functions refers to all activities or parts thereof that are necessary or important for the continued existence of a society (these are the activities of government, military, clergy, administration and industry). According to the general conception of his time, Spencer restricted the division of labor to that part of the specialization of functions which directly or indirectly serves the fulfillment of material desires or the production of material resources for the fulfillment of spiritual desires. The division of labor also includes the intellectual work that regulates a production process. Georg Simmel's division of labor , which is rarely used, also seems to be geared towards activities . It has a similar or identical designation with Differentiation of Work. It divides related tasks of a professional activity, so it corresponds at most with the specialization of functions , if one wants to see the profession as a contribution to the continued existence of a society and understand the task in terms of an activity taking place in the near future.
Differentiation, however, goes well beyond this area and initially means inequality, so that division of labor is ultimately a possible concretization of differentiation. So the object of differentiation is indefinite. Social differentiation is clearly linked to the development process from a homogeneous group of people to a heterogeneous one, but here too it directly only describes a difference. After all , a kind of division is found in the differentiation of personality that goes hand in hand with social differentiation . Because this can only be meaningfully interpreted as the difference in interests of a person and thus the splitting, the division of the interests of a person into different parts. These parts are the affiliations of this person to different groups (circles), which describe the personality as a unique intersection of this multitude in a multitude of existing circles .
Émile Durkheim relates his division du travail social to work and function. Since the division of labor is "a result of the struggle for life", the activities available are aimed at the acquisition of scarce goods, or those that have become scarce due to many human competitors. Since these goods can be both spiritual and material, a comparison with the specialization of functions and the division of labor is possible. A difference to the former lies in such activities that are necessary for the continued existence of society, but do not procure (at least not elaborately constructed) scarce goods.
Examples of these activities are voting for a party, getting information from the media or (moral) exchanges with other people. Although these activities satisfy the needs of the agent, they are available without restriction, especially regardless of how many other people are doing the same activity. However, a society without voter turnout or communication about social concerns could hardly continue (also in Durkheim's sense). If one wants to tie “professional activities” less to a “calling” and more to wage labor , the division of labor is, so to speak, the “lowest common denominator” of the terms discussed here.
The complementarity of the division
One of Durkheim's main points of criticism of Herbert Spencer's work is the failure to observe the agreement and thus the previously necessary moral bond between the people who divide up the work. The basis of this criticism is the “nature” of the division du travail social, which requires “one function to be divided into two exactly complementary functions”. This is an excessive limitation of the concept of division, if one wants to do justice to Spencer's remarks, because he also considers an independent `` division '' (if one still wants to call it such a division), as would be possible, for example, between different regions, as well as one Mutually supportive division similar to a symbiosis, which can contain overlaps as well as completely different parts. In order to make these differences more vivid through examples, a farmer can divide his field work into sowing and harvesting in a complementary way. But he can also work with a neighbor, focus on arable farming and severely restrict his livestock, while his neighbor behaves the other way around, which would amount to an overlapping division. After all, fishermen and farmers could exist side by side without a trade or mutual knowledge that connects them, so that, measured against the conceivable possibilities of food supply in a society, a completely independent division can be established. Durkheim's criticism is only sustainable in the case of a complementary division. There is a considerable difference between “division du travel social” and specialization of functions or division of labor.
The differentiation of personality can, if we take the object of division stated in the previous chapter as a basis, assume all three of the forms of division outlined above. The division of labor, on the other hand, often appears as planned by a manager due to the strong reference to wage labor and is therefore often complementary, but also appears to be superimposed. What is important to Simmel, however, is the connection between the individual areas of activity, so that an independent division cannot be ruled out through the wording, but is at least hardly taken into account by him. It is through this connection that the more interesting consequences of the division of labor come about: that people have another person with the same profession but different interests (or vice versa), and thus learn to differentiate between the factual relationships and the schematic similarities and, above all, what is more abstract in common recognizes.
Those affected by the division
The above-mentioned consequence of the division of labor at Simmel can only be found when two different people or groups carry out the separate parts of the work, i.e. the parts of the work can be carried out in parallel. For a similar reason, the form of division, in which an activity is only divided spatially and / or temporally and is nevertheless carried out by a person or a group (without specialization of its members), is of no interest to Durkheim and is not taken into account. Because in this case the emergence of solidarity between different persons cannot be deduced. This possibility is only mentioned (explicitly) by Spencer, at least for the serial division of labor by an individual.
The question of the interchangeability of those involved in the division in Spencer remains unheeded in the chapters discussed, because this seems to increase in parallel with the general development of division. Although it deals with the freedoms of wage employment, it deals with the idea that a fragmentation of more complex activities not only allows space for specialization of the people involved in the division, but conversely can also make the remaining parts so simple that in principle anyone without special qualifications can do them Spencer does not have the ability to carry out partial activities.
Durkheim does not deal with this topic either. In the secondary literature there is a characterization of the 'segmentary', i.e. in Durkheim's classification primitive, underdeveloped society of the following kind: "Most individuals are expected to be able to perform any task, they almost have to, as far as functional performance is concerned be interchangeable, and in this sense have no 'individuality' from a social perspective. " The latter is created at Durkheim by the division du travail social, which, however, requires such a specialization of the labor providers that they are in turn significantly less interchangeable than before (according to Durkheim, this development is also caused by the competition between the labor providers). However, if one considers at least that part of the division of labor that is deliberately planned to increase the productivity of employers, then many of these partial tasks are so impersonal and unskilled that the employed people are to a large extent interchangeable and have no or hardly any special qualities. But then it is not clear why a solidarity should arise between these people, since everyone could take over their tasks and thus none of them is dependent. Also, this aspect should not be marginalized as an anomaly, since even in a society based only on voluntary choice of profession and of course a division du travail social, unqualified and therefore interchangeable work is always required. These are then not accepted out of interest, disposition or skills, but out of a lack of other work opportunities.
Simmel goes into this point clearly , albeit in a more general form. He sees the objectification of social relationships growing in harmony with increasing individual freedom , since obligations no longer exist towards a specific person, but only towards a position. This development has its limits, since the others "must first be there and be felt so that one can be indifferent to them. [...] The cause as well as the effect of such objective dependencies, in which the subject as such is free , lies in the interchangeability of persons: in the voluntary change of subjects or as a result of the structure of the relationship, that indifference of the subjective moment of dependence is revealed, which carries the feeling of freedom. " In relation to the division of labor, this would mean that only the positions or posts to which the parts of labor are assigned are dependent on one another, but not the individuals who own them. Now the awareness of the individuals about the dependencies of their posts creates the feeling of being dependent on all other individuals, since potentially everyone else could receive such a post, and thus an indirect dependency would exist. However, and in this respect my criticism expressed above also applies to Simmel, the different degrees of interchangeability, depending on the activity and the necessary qualifications, are not taken into account, which is not a dependency of the individual on all equally, but one with the Qualification of the post creates increasing dependency.
Another point is the question of whether a person can be involved in several processes of division. So it seems to be a matter of course for Spencer that each person can only do one job or occupation. Simmel contradicts this, noting that there is a significant development in the diversity of groups in which the same person is involved (it is clear from examples that membership in such groups can also involve different activities and professions). Durkheim's remarks allow both possibilities. Unlike Simmel, however, Durkheim does not pay attention to the conflicts that may arise from several activities in one person.
The division of labor creates problems with coordination , for example problems with search or provision, and problems with motivation , such as problems of specificity and dependency or measurement and evaluation . The profit from the division of labor is diminished by the cost of coordination. This means that a profit from more division of labor must exceed the coordination effort.
Further questions arise when division of labor occurs as a form of discriminatory hierarchy.
From the feminist side, the gender hierarchical division of labor, which women ascribe to household work (reproductive work: housework and care work ), is criticized. This cultural and institutionalized division of labor leads to a worse position on the labor market and to an unequal distribution of the burden of work as a whole.
It also identifies racial discrimination that cause immigrants and colored people access to higher-paid, better-skilled jobs is blocked.
The Ricardo model of the comparative cost advantages shows that the international division of labor can lead to prosperity gains for all involved, whereby the assumptions of the model are the object of criticism .
A departure from Taylorism is occasionally discussed. Since the late 1990s, however, an increasing tendency towards re-Taylorization has been observed, for example through increasing work breakdown and standardization.
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