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Ntg Ntg Ntg Ntg Ntg Essay

3079 words - 13 pages

SPECIALISATION, DIVISION OF LABOUR AND EXCHANGE
Candidates should understand the benefits of specialisation and why specialisation necessitates an efficient means of exchanging goods and services, such as the use of money as a medium of exchange. Adam Smith is generally regarded as the father of economics. Smith was a moral philosopher and his first book ‘the Theory of Moral Sentiments’ was published when he was a professor at the University of Glasgow. After agreeing to take a wealthy young nobleman on a European tour, Smith used the experience to meet and discuss with the great thinkers of his age and to observe the continental economy. ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth ...view middle of the document...

Although a useful discussion over issues such as freedom and ecology can be had, it is by many standards a poor life. More advanced economies do better at producing food, clothing and shelter. Economies where there is a degree of specialisation can produce more than just these basic necessities. The first level of specialisation is when people take on different production roles. The skills needed to fish are very different from the skills of the farmer, the tailor or the blacksmith. And because specialisation leads to more and better quality goods being produced, each person then produces more than they need. Through trading, this surplus production can be used to purchase the products of other artisans. Society as a whole benefits from the gains from exchange discussed later in this chapter. Division of labour by process Adam Smith used the example of a pin factory to explain the division of labour by process. This involves producing a product by splitting up the stages of manufacture and different workers performing only a few of the functions. The principles explained by Smith in 1776, can be seen in the example of Henry Ford’s automobile factories in the early 20th century.

© Chris Rodda

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Ford was an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company and tinkered with internal combustion engines in his spare time. In 1899 he left Edison and started his own company producing cars. Previous to 1913, work in engineering factories work involved division of labour by process to some extent, but individual specialists did a range of highly skilled jobs using general purpose machine tools such as lathes. These specialists were highly trained, having spent many years learning their trade. Ford increased this division of labour so that each step of a process became narrower and narrower. Instead of a wheelwright constructing a whole wheel, an operative would produce merely the spokes of the wheel. Because of the repetitiveness and dullness of the job, Ford offered higher wages than anyone else, partly to reduce the turnover of labour but also because the increase in productiveness enabled him to do so. So despite having a reduced skill level, Ford’s workers were better remunerated than skilled workers elsewhere. This division of labour was possible because Ford was building such a large number of cars and the factory could afford to employ a large number of workers. The productivity of each worker was raised because the revenue from selling large volumes meant that it was it was now affordable to use single purpose machine tools. These were machines designed to do one job and one job alone. Expensive as dedicated machine tools are, they make financial sense if they are being used all the time. Again the large-scale production made these tools a worthwhile investment. Ford’s final leap forward came with the introduction of the moving assembly line in 1913. Previously, men worked at their own pace, now Ford could make workers operate at the...

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