Anarchy 47/Towards freedom in work
In an electrical components factory we had trouble planning for smooth flow of components and balancing of operations. Output varied considerably from one operator to another. Monday’s output was some 25% lower than output on Thursday which was the closing day of the bonus week, and work discipline was only fair. After some study a group bonus system was designed and the outline, meaning and purpose of this was put to the group which was then left to discuss it among its members, (free group discussion). The girls agreed to have a trial and they were then invited to check the base times set per operation, (group participation in method). The system was introduced with the quick result that the group members so organised themselves that the flow of work was greatly improved, discipline improved as a result of internal group controls, and output increased by about 12% over that previously attained under the individual piecework system. (Here the group took over the local management function of internal work progressing and, more important, that of local man-
We use the social-
Tens of thousands of kind-
- Sweet Mary your production’s poor,
- Just dry your tears and go,
- For speed and greed are rated high,
- But love-for-others, no.
- Christ ! Where’s the electrician ?
- Our lamps are burning low !
- Sweet Mary your production’s poor,
The illustration given describes in simple form the group contract system in which the group shares work and the rewards of work, and has a share in decision-
Now, there is a school of apologist thought which suggests that responsible industrial democracy is at work when opposition takes place between trade unions and employers in collective bargaining . This plausible theory has, it seems, considerable support at executive level within the trade unions, but it is really a kind of verbalism; for while free opposition is a characteristic of democracy, so also is dependence on individual citizen morale and the spread of individual decision-
However, this matter of our schizoid culture and of planning for everything but self-
There is a quaint idea among management consultants and other experts that management incorporates leadership. Indeed, in all modern books on management this wishful notion is cultivated. Thus a recent book called The Business of Management  makes the statement that management and leadership are complementary, “but they are not the same thing”. In this, as in the appropriate literature, ideas on leadership are hazy; “it is an art that is timeless … it is of the spirit … etc.”, but whatever leadership is, it is “an element in management”. Three definitions, the second and third from political science, may help to clear
Management : Management is a (socially necessary) activity expressed in the science and art of directing, organising and controlling material and human factors within the work institution with a view to effective and profitable results. (No-
Leadership : Leadership is a power activity in which the leader and the led identify internally with each other (a “we” feeling) and the leader uses his power in a manner which accords with the wishes and expectations of the led .
Management (apart from the situation when one man is both policy-
By definition, management is boss-
A new definition of orthodox management is in order:
Management : Management is skilled power activity expressed in the direction, organisation and control of human and material factors with a view to effective, profitable results on behalf of the principals, public or private, with whom management tends to identify when carrying out the economic aims of their principals.Management, though it has yet to be admitted in the literature, is a
“Power may be defined as the capacity of an individual, or group of individuals, to modify the conduct of other individuals or groups in the manner which he (the power-
It is clear that management is a power activity, but what is not made clear in the literature is that the power is not given by those led as in leadership, but is granted to management by the economic formula which makes the power legal and is endowed by existing power holders within the business hierarchy. Thus management’s power at root is formal authority.
Authority does not depend only on the economic formula which gives it legal sanction; it depends on allegiance or formal loyalty from those over whom authority is wielded. The authority, as I have said, is legal, and to have legality is to win allegiance (but not identification) in the minds of the majority of people, given other things are equal.
Authority has small real power, but the prestige of the person holding authority is an important factor. “Even a nod from a person who is esteemed”, said Plutarch, “is of more force than a thousand arguments”. Wealth, status and technical skills are attributes which tend to increase the weight of authority, and it is on these that orthodox management must on the whole depend, if outright coercion is not to be the rule. But, to repeat, the gaining of formal allegiance through external identification with authority itself, or with this or that attribute of the person holding authority, is not leadership.
The experts, economic and psychological, who have had this point of view on leadership in work put to them have, without exception, hotly rejected it. This rejection is understandable in view of the hundreds of books and the many educational courses on management which have promoted, and still promote, the idea that orthodox management and leadership of human beings are in some mystical manner twin functions. But in our analysis of human leadership there is no rejection of management and the necessity for management; rather, there is advanced the idea that the management structure be designed to integrate the human leadership function with technological and commercial functions in a manner later to be described.
Management doctrine, as with other political and economic doctrines, serves to justify the holders of power and those of the group or class with which the power-
Some of the doctrinal assumptions are:
1. That leadership is a component of orthodox management activity. (This we have examined.)2. That management is or can be a professional body with an ethical code independent of the code of the policy-
3. That the orthodox management process and structure is the best possible and there is no reasonable alternative.
4. That the decision-
The matter of whether there is a reasonable alternative to orthodox management process and structure remains to be examined, but that decision-
It has been shown that management is a skilled power activity. Power is decision-
In his book Decision-making and Productivity, Professor Melman, as will later be shown, indicates factually how foolish is the management doctrine that the managers must manage, , as does Professor Likert in his New Patterns of Management . But the change from centralised decision-
I like the philosopher Roger Bacon on the effect of power on man, (I will misquote slightly): “Man doeth like the ape, the higher he goeth the more he showeth his ass”. Power is of an encroaching nature, or, as the political scientist Michels put it:
“Every human power seeks to enlarge its prerogatives. He who has acquired power will almost always endeavour to consolidate and to extend it, to multiply the ramparts which defend his position, and to withdraw himself from the control of the masses”. 
Part of the management doctrine has to do with work, but, it should be said, the idea of work held by management is that held by the majority of people:
1. Work is effort applied for the material values which income from work will buy. (Economic theory.)
There is a corollary to this definition of work and this comprehends the notion of economic man:
1a. A whole man can wholly be bought for money and money incentives.Many managers will rightly reject the corollary out of hand, but on the whole, judging in terms of economic techniques, the corollary
If we compare other definitions of work with that given above we will find ourselves leaving the concealing smoke of economic work, and breathing a sweeter air:
2. Work is prayer; prayer is work. (St. Benedict).
3. I pray with the floor and the bench. (Hasidic Judaism).
4. Labour is the great reality of human life. In labour there is a truth of redemption and a truth of the constructive power of man. (Berdyaev).
5. Laying stress on the importance of work has a greater effect than any other technique of reality living. (Freud).
6. Work and love are the two chief components in the growth of mature personality in community. (Erich Fromm).
Although our stress is on the psychological value of work, as in Freud, Fromm and others, it would be pleasing if we had more room to develop a work philosophy and to quote the poets’ work visions, the fine work philosophy in the Hindu Bhagavat Gita (Gandhi’s Karma Yoga), Zen Buddhism, which somewhat parallels Benedictine work practice, Chinese <span data-html="true" class="plainlinks" title="Wikipedia: neo-
But there is small joy in work within the work institution, for work is an enforced means to earning money; and how can the soul enjoy good in its labour when there is no soul in the places where labour is organised? But these are big, if somewhat odd thoughts, which have as yet no echo in the work institution, for to equate work with fellowship, with love, with the liberated vitality of the artist of which Morris, Ruskin, Kropotkin and others speak, is to be met with the hidden smile behind the polite hand, or with a psychiatric diagnosis. Once I attacked what is now called “work study” in one of my books  and quoted Plato. “What”, a reviewer of the American edition asked, “has Plato to do with work?” What indeed?
Yet there is joy in work when the task is a man’s own; when he is not ant-
What function, if any, has work in the well-
Work in which there is free expression of the whole man is an ego-
Writing over 2,000 years past, the Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu describes the Golden Age of Chaos, of placid tranquility in which no work was done and there was no need for knowledge. In Genesis, man lived in a paradisal Golden Age until with the expression of self-
Always, in the great traditions, the pain of work and the rise of self-
“Laying stress upon the importance of work has a greater effect than any other technique of reality living in the direction of binding the individual to reality. The daily work of earning a livelihood affords particular satisfaction when it has been selected by free choice; i.e. when through sublimation it enables use to be made of existing inclinations, of instinctual impulses that have retained their strength, or are more intense than usual for constitutional reasons.” (Freud, ).
Work which is creative and thought-
This is the unspoken fear of the many writers on the problem of leisure: that man, drugged by comfort and distracted by mass amusements, will regress to a state of neurotic dependence on the state, the managers, the amusement caterers, and the computerisers:—
- Here where brave lions roamed, the fatted sheep,
- and poppies bloom where once the golden wheat.
- Here where brave lions roamed, the fatted sheep,
Mechanisation precedes automation, and the fruits of mechanisation and of technology generally, have been distributed roughly on the basis of half to increased leisure and half to increased economic living standards. If we move into automation in a substantial way and the trend continues, then, on a conservative estimate, the present working week will be cut by 50% in the next thirty years.
Mechanisation is the use of machines which, on the whole, replace handwork. But the product parts have to be loaded and unloaded into and out of the machine, the machine itself may require individual attention, and the product part has to be moved manually between one machine and another. With automation, loading and unloading the machine is mechanised and transfer machines take the product part to the next machine, and so on down the line until the product parts reach assembly, when, again, this may be taken over by automated process. The automated process may be controlled by an “electronic brain” and, at higher levels of work, decision-
About half of the automation slack is taken up by shorter hours, and the other half by increased production, absorption of displaced producers in service industries, and by unemployment. The tendency is to increase the number of “degreed” managers, electronics engineers and planners, (“From apprentice to managing director” will be the subject of historical novels only, in the future), and to decrease skill on the workshop floor. Although there will be a lowering of skill and thought on the shop floor, it is likely that there will be an upgrading of status, by giving floor workers “staff” standing—
The result of labour displacement on service industry is remarkable and it is likely that in a few years more than half the country’s labour force will be engaged in services—
Automation is more than a works or office method; it is a design for living which has to be paid for. Indeed, as Aldous Huxley remarks in his Brave New World Revisited, like last year’s washing machine, technological advances are still being paid for, and each installment is higher than the last.
And automated factory methods have invaded the farms and farming employment is fast decreasing. The use of meat-
- Not now for them the friendship of the sun,
- the benediction of the sheltering trees,
- or soft sweet grass to ruminate upon in meadowed ease
their Mother- nature steriled and undone.
- Now sunless factories speed their orphan flesh
- these egoid other animals to refresh.
- After we eat of automated cattle,
- let’s light a candle in Saint Francis’ chapel.
- Not now for them the friendship of the sun,
This odd aside I call “Inscription for Whited Sepulchres.”
There is no doubt that technological progress has far outstripped human progress towards personal and social maturity, and many are the valiant efforts to solve this threatening problem. Perhaps it may be solved by large educational measures; perhaps one of history’s erupting minorities may opt out of the rat race and lead us in the process of challenge and response; perhaps there will be a new Franciscanism, perhaps a nation like India may opt out in Gandhian terms. Perhaps small communities of individuals will form to do useful work by hand and with small tools on the land and in workshops. There is as much cause for hope as for gloom, and I think that the escape from automated leisure in and through fellowship work groups is a probability.
The broken fellowship of authoritarian work life and democratic social life bespeaks the schizoid disease of our culture. But this is not seen as a root problem of community life but, rather as a problem of education for leisure. We are going to become artists, handicraft men, <span data-html="true" class="plainlinks" title="Wikipedia: do-
But why not also have the work we do now as a personal and social good. The way forward for man is the way of free work in fellowship. Erich Fromm puts it thus, when writing of man as a free, spontaneous creature:
“Love is the first component of such spontaneity; not love as the dissolution of the self in another person, not love as the possession of another person, but love as the spontaneous affirmation of others on the basis of the preservation of the individual self.
“Work is the other component—
Numerous attempts have been made to solve some of the problems stated earlier. One of the most widely publicised of these is the use of Joint Councils in which primary worker-
“Experience has shown there is a gap between the local advisory committee and the shop floor, and this is now being filled by the organisation of small working groups within each management unit …” 
The work of Dr W. H. Scott  and of Lisl Klein  repeat in other language what has been discovered in the electricity supply industry, and a recent book from the Industrial Welfare Society on joint consultation presents at best a sorry spectacle. 
To make joint consultation work a very important step has been taken by the electricity supply industry. The extent of this advance is indicated in the annual report of the Electricity Supply Industry Joint Advisory Council  in which it is stated that in 1963, of the 471 local advisory committees in the industry, 142 were in some way associated with the operation of primary worker group meetings in works time with payment during attendance. I have not seen any of the group meetings at work and dependence is here on a useful meeting with Mr Garnett of the Yorkshire Division of the Electricity Council and on information supplied by Mr M Skinner, Secretary of the Electricity Council. From them I have learned that the workshop floor meetings now cover about one fourth of the industry’s employees. A brief statement from Mr Skinner, who is also Consultation Officer to the Electricity Council, outlines the operation of the primary groups:“These informal group meetings take many different forms depending on local needs and local organisation structure. I general, however, it can be said that the working group meets regularly, but not too frequently, usually in its normal place of work, and in working hours. The proceedings, which are informal, are chaired … either by the group’s foreman or supervisor or by a more senior officer who has some responsibility for the work of the group. It is a cardinal rule that the group’s representative on the local consultative committee should always be present. Sometimes groups meet prior to the meeting of the local consultative committee so that they can give their views on items to be discussed at their meeting, but in other cases there is no time link with the formal committees. Group meetings are valuable as a channel of communication. They also succeed in solving many work problems peculiar to the group and often give rise to matters of greater importance which are the proper subjects for consideration within the formal
The primary group meetings were initiated in the Yorkshire Power Stations about five years ago  and have since spread throughout the industry. The effect of these meetings on morale is undoubtedly good, if only for the reason that primary workers as a whole are directly involved in the consultation process and because their significance as persons is positively recognised. So far as the productivity of the meetings is concerned, the following seems to be typical: in the Tees No 2 Area the subjects discussed in nine meetings were, Efficiency 42, Welfare 26, Training and General 25. There is, in passing, no compulsory attendance at group meetings.
There is a large difference between these shop-
The free group meeting aims at reducing dependence on figures of authority who know all the answers; that is, we attempt in social-
That we should be able to treat a man, not as a mere means to economic or other ends, but as a self-
Basic in free group theory is the idea that if we want willing obedience from a man we must first obey the man: that is, we must maturely comprehend the laws of the man’s nature as expressed in his material, psychic and spiritual aspirations in fellowship with other men.
Now, there is no point in idealising either the primary workers or the managing workers in the process of stating free group theory; what is meant is that we cannot expect 100% support for such a theory. Managers are involved in matters of personal status and power, and they have a fair percentage of selfish and prejudiced individuals, and if I dare to estimate how many will refuse to take responsibility under a free group system I would put 30% as a figure based on experience. About 30% will welcome responsibility, and the remaining 40% will be influenced largely by local operating circumstance which, by and large, is in the domain of management and of worker group leadership. Among those who refuse to take any responsibility are the egocentrics, the many who have a masochistic dependence on big brother manager, the cynics who just don’t believe management is capable of sharing real power, and the ones who don’t care what happens. Self-
The free expression or informal group method is a kind of joint consultation in depth but it may also be an integral part of an interlocking management structure as when the local supervisor with group consent regularly attends local group meetings for such limited time as is required for him to put his local problems to the group for its consideration. Or, of the method of having a trained group conductor present is preferred, (not a chairman, it is important to note), the conductor may attend for part or the whole of the meeting, according to his mature discretion and the sense of the meeting. The idea of the trained group conductor has been mentioned earlier under the description of the electricity supply industry’s shop-
The structure of the method is roughly as follows:
1. Each group of twelve to twenty individuals, drawn from a specific work-
2. The groups operate only after the matter of group meeting has been put to the groups and consented to.
3. Each group appoints a group chairman and a secretary.
4. The secretary keeps minutes of group deliberations and these are published in the monthly communications journal along with the names of those attending the group meeting.
5. The group chairman attends a monthly meeting of a Central Management Board, Joint Consultative Committee, or Junior Board consisting of elected members who are in touch with the small groups and representatives of management.
6. A communications journal is published which gives minutes of small groups and of the central group meetings so that each member of a group knows what is happening to group ideas and what is management’s general policy application.7. Where there is a personnel welfare worker the final choice of this worker, after academic and other necessary qualifications have been
8. It is held by some of those interested that a profit-
The first six points are the important ones. Of prime importance for multi-
9. Management should each month put at least local problems to the groups, or, if the local supervisor attends his local group meeting at the start of the meeting, he should be the mouthpiece of such problems.
10. For groups made up of persons eighteen years old and under, it is worth considering having a management-
11. Group meetings should be about one hour in duration and should be carefully scheduled in advance by the personnel worker or a member of the management team.
12. For best results group members should not only be engaged in jobs in close proximity, but if possible the job operations should be closely related and the bonus earnings for task performance should be a group and not an individual bonus. Or an effective profit-
It is often said that primary worker groups discuss trivialities; the following analysis of subjects discussed by the groups at Best and Lloyd Ltd over a period of ten of the fifteen years free groups have been in operation may correct this impression, although it is true that non-
|subject discussed||times discussed|
|General quality control||26|
|Finishing processes and quality||6|
|Best and Lloyd News||2|
|Canteen (run by the groups)||28|
|Design (and saleability of designs)||42|
|Explanation of accounts||14|
|Small group procedure||48|
|Management and Management Board||32|
|Job of Personnel Welfare Worker||11|
|Publicity for group scheme||9|
|Batch production as cost reducer||9|
|Sales and advertising||18|
|Possible suggestion scheme||3|
|Wages and allied matters||11|
|Welfare, social club and safety (largely controlled by groups)||44|
|Young people’s training||7|
I should have liked to include whole copies of the Aston Chain and Hook Co.’s monthly Communicator, and especially that number in which
- joint brush making and bristle section group meeting 18.3.64
- Chairman: P. J. Clarke Guest: The Managing Director
- Members present: (29 names)
- Business of the Meeting:
- Bonus: The Bristle Dressing operators, who have to be experienced, feel that they should have more bonus especially when they find that operators on the brush making machine are receiving more bonus than they are.
- Pipes: Could the air pipe be put back on the bristle dressing machine please?
- Minutes: After our last meeting, which was a considerable time ago, we were asked to omit some of our minutes. This we refused to do and in consequence none of our minutes were printed, obviously because the Management did not approve of them.
Is this supposed to be free discussion?
Mr. L. G. Harris was called in to discuss various grievances and complaints which are affecting workers’ outputs. The main grievance was that there are insufficient tools to enable us to reach our output figures by causing considerable delays. Also the labour position (shortage of operators and misplacement of personnel) was fully discussed. Mr. Harris kindly agreed to look into those matters for us immediately.
- Trays: Members asked if they could be supplied with more trays for the bristle dressing machines.
- Cones: More tin cones are also required and Mr. Harris agreed to look into this also.
- This concluded the business of the meeting: (Signed) p. j. clarke.
The adult groups are quite able to discuss intelligently matters of capital expenditure; this is evident in the Group Minutes from Aston Chain and Hook Ltd, and Best and Lloyd Ltd companies in which there is a good proportion of skilled craftsmen, whereas at L. G. Harris Ltd, there is a high proportion of young female workers. Here is a minute from a group discussing capital expenditure:
“The members of the group would like to know if the figures stated are competitive, and if tenders have been invited. The new lathe was not considered necessary at the present time; the polishing spindle was urgently required.”
When the free discussion group is initiated there is a release of historic criticism which, to the immature manager, may be very disturbing:
“The trouble with our company is that when the Managing Director says ‘Black is white’ then black is white.”
“Management is just an overhead which the workers have to carry.”
“How do we know that the free group system is not just another trick? … If we say what we really think we will soon be out on our necks.”
At a first meeting at Aston Chain and Hook Ltd this was said to me: “You say Bond (Bond-
The three companies mentioned employ 100, 300 and 500 people respectively, and the electricity supply industry, mentioned earlier, employs some thousands. Each company tailors its system to its own liking; each has strong points and failings in my opinion; but all of them are alike in that they are fostering a new concept of work relationships.
From some large companies I have been met with the argument “We are too big for the free or informal group system,” and while it is true that in a firm of more than, say, 500 people, the group system is apt to become a formal method, the huge electricity supply industry, with its groups operating in fairly small management units, gives an effective answer to the “we are too big” argument. Decentralisation is the rule rather than the exception in very large companies, and in such companies decentralisation of group structure in management units, each with its own communication journal, would be essential. A pilot unit to prove or disprove the system would be valuable.
“When you are dealing with a product such as ours, which has a fluctuating demand, the company is entitled to more than from a gilt-
Mr S. Jenkins (group elected member of the Board): “I would like to say that the dominant factor of the group discussion was the sounder foundation of the firm.”
As the foreman or supervisory group, the office group, and the production worker group are represented, with management appointed representatives on the Board, it is clear that in Best and Lloyd there is here interlocking group management, with multi-
In the firm of L. G. Harris Ltd, we have some foremen attending primary group meetings for a part only of group meeting time with group and foreman consent, thus tending to interlock the lower supervisory function with primary group operation—
- 1. Work quality.
- 2. Work output.
- 3. Work load on department.
- 4. Timekeeping and the like.
- 5. Department development if any.
- 6. General situation re orders, output.
The free group contract system expresses in practice the psychological theory of work, quoted earlier, in Freud, Jung and Fromm, in that the work is freely done in and for fellowship with consequent growth towards maturity for the individual and for society. This to me is a most important aspect of the free group system in general and the free group contract system in particular. Freedom in work is usually supported by economic arguments and proofs about production or by
Where a free or autonomous group operates to share work and the rewards of work, the Law of Free Work is in command; that is, the disciplines do not emanate so much from management, but are in the work itself and the work situation. This has been called the Law of the Situation, and it has been suggested that appeal to this law takes the place of the use of coercion. But in an unfree environment the law of the situation is an abstraction which operates to control the work process without consideration of the concrete situation in terms of relationships and of power distribution within that situation. The law of the situation will inevitably take its colour from the existing power structure and may justify extreme poverty and wealth, or domination and submission in the same economic environment; that is a truism in political science which is put very well by, I think, Anatole France, when he says: “The law in its majestic equality forbids the poor as well as the rich to sleep under bridges, to beg, and to steal food.”
With the free group contract method in its full form within an existing work situation, man-
The free group meeting system may operate without the more or less free contract system, and vice versa, but it is doubtful if the use of individual piecework or bonus is conducive to co-
The vital importance of free or autonomous working at the actual work-
Group bonus with group sharing
Individual and group bonus with 30% of individual earnings shared
Group bonus is to be preferred from the human standpoint to individualist bonus, and its fruitful use is indicated in the following situations:
1. Where primary worker morale is not all it should be (this is commonplace in work).
2. Where skill and experience is high and the use of refined work study and operation planning techniques is expensive with consequent increase in cost of management.
3. Where sub-
5. Where labour cost is low compared with material cost in a job and it is not worth while using expensive work study and like techniques and the method of 4 above is suitable.
6. Where the primary workers’ desire is for group bonus.
7. Where the costs of man-
It is understandable that many managers will be somewhat startled by these proposals, and especially that which suggests that man-
It was while on a foundry job that the method of primary worker selection of a foreman was first attempted. The group was a tough group of fettlers (casting dressers and cleaners) and getting a foreman to stay with them was quite a problem. I suggested to management we try letting the men decide which member of the fettling team they would like for a foreman; management was extremely doubtful and seemed sure the team would pick firebrand X, whereas Y was obviously the best man. The group picked Y by secret ballot, whereupon Y called a meeting and told the team what a lot of shirkers they were, etc., etc., to the team’s great delight. I have, as said, only one other experience of this kind, but the experiments indicated that a group of adults will pick the man best suited to the situation; as was undoubtedly true when our small free groups made the final selection of personnel managers in three separate instances.As said, the technical foreman should interlock with the labour foreman throughout the day as well as at group meetings, for the free group contract system would ultimately integrate with the group meeting system. In the small company employing, say, 100 people, or in a small department with the same number of people, one labour foreman could
My experience of the simple group contract system is considerable, but of the free group contract system in which the group takes over considerable man-
Some years ago I was called upon to help reorganise a fifty-
In passing, one skilled group of moulders left the firm to go to a car factory where wages were much higher, but came back after a few days with the comment that “A man isn’t a man in that blurry place, but only a blurry machine.”
One of the comic aspects of “scientific” individualist bonus schemes is that the working group may remain on group bonus in spite of the applications of orthodox planning and work study techniques—
On the other hand, where there is no underlying fellowship in an aggregate of workers on individual piecework, it is painful sometimes to watch the struggle for money. In one clothing factory there was an almost animal struggle for bundles of work during the slack season. As was said earlier, our economic culture rewards some of the worst of human characteristics and penalises some of the best, in the running of the economic rat-
Of the two published examples of group operation with considerable group regulation and control of the local work environment, the example of the Standard Motors gang system is more complex in many ways than that of the Durham miners. Unfortunately, when Standard Motors sold out to Leyland Motors Ltd, the gang system in the form described by Melman came to an end. Whereas most applied anthropological and industrial sociological studies are concerned with group theory and the relationship of the small groups to the parent organisation, Professor Melman who wrote a very readable report on the Standard gang system  dealt with decision-
Melman proves that high productivity and democratic practice can effectively be related, and that there are efficient alternatives to authoritarian management of production, as shown at Standard Motors, where a modern mechanised plant was successfully developed and run without the normal rise in the cost of administration and management. In the years 1947 to 1948 the ratio of administrative workers to production workers (A/P) in the car industry rose from about 13 to 20, but in Standard Motors in the period 1939 to 1953 the A/P was fairly stationary around 16.5.
The difference in ratios shown is the significant factor in the study of management system which at Standards fostered group bonus and spread of decision-
It has been stated earlier that with group bonus the cost of management tends to be less because the group by its very nature takes over certain management activities. Melman brings this out by a comparison of the number of foremen of local supervisors per 100 production workers at Standard and in a very similar company, with both firms expanding:
|Number of foremen per 100 workers||2.1||0.5|
It is certain that critics will assume that Standard Motors were inevitably inefficient. Here are figures for net output per employee: in the typical year 1953 net output per production worker was comparable with industry as a whole but net output per employee (including management and administration) was 10% better than the industrial average.
In the year for which most of the figures given above are appropriate, electric power employed per man-
Professor Melman clearly shows that the trade union stewards had the job of keeping output up and costs down and did a very effective job with their gangs numbering from 50 to 500 people. Credit should go to management, and especially to the far-sighted Sir John Black, then managing director of Standard Motors. Melman, after a thorough analysis of Standard affairs concludes that there is in this experiment adequate proof that there is an effective alternative to orthodox management process and structure; a viewpoint, allowing for my criticism, with which I must logically agree.
There are two weighty reports on this project by psychologists, experts on human relationships. (, ) Peculiarly enough, these experts in their reports retreat behind a technico-
In short, in earlier days before the onset of mechanisation, breakdown and specialisation of labour, and the development of modern management theories of control and individual incentives, small groups of miners working at the coal face, shared group earnings and took responsibility for local regulation and control of the actual coal-
The miners concerned were already a group, and as pointed out earlier, they behaved like any normal group of adult primary workers by organising and regulating the local work situation by allocating effort, skill, and experience where it was most needed on the job, and sharing the proceeds of the work among the group members. This, to those used to the operation of work groups is not at all surprising, but what is surprising is that the new group method was a spontaneous grouth among the miners themselves. Nor is it surprising that output per man-
The elite among the miners and among the managers can pilot this informative free group process to higher and more satisfactory levels. At this moment it is a candlelight in the depths of the earth, a promise. But through the extension of the free group contract system by the initiation of interlocking labour foremanship (group leadership) and technical foremanship, and the meeting of these (and higher functions) in free groups, the guild system which many miners dreamed that nationalisation would bring, might develop, and each man in a mine might play a whole man’s part in the conduct of his mine’s affairs.The linking of mines by districts already exists, as does a central board, and the communication structure of joint consultation needs modification and extension in depth to create out of what is a formalised institution an organic industry with each organ serving the whole.
The guild system has much thoughtful support in sociological, political and religious thinking (the last in, for example, the work of Archbishop Temple  and in the Papal Encyclicals ). The guild system is already in seed in work in both private and public industry, and it is for thoughtful workers to bring it to flower. For many of us it will be the revivication of past dreams, for others a newfound upward path with a far view, not of economic man, or of organisation man, or of role-
We have taken more than the usual worm’s eye view of work and its organisation, and of the relationship of increasingly automated work to the use and abuse of leisure. The problem of leisure and its effects on the individual and the social group is becoming of increasing urgency—
are idle brains his factories, automated ?
Behind this often stated problem of leisure is hidden the problem of worker and work significance and of the schizoid relationship between work life and social life; and yet deeper is the problem of the strongly individualistic and acquisitive motives which largely activate our culture. It is at this root fault in economic life that this essay is directed, for to re-
“At the level of the small group society has always been able to cohere. We infer therefore, that if civilisation is to stand, it must maintain, in the relations which make up society and the central direction of society, some of the features of the small group itself.” 
And Wilhelm Aarek has this to say, after writing of the frustrations of mass society composed of huge institutions:
“The small groups will be able, through fellowship, to make amends to people, to give them something of a feeling that the social and international forces can be coped with after all. For it is just this spirit of fellowship in the many small groups which must, in the long run, give life and content to the large social and international groups.” 
- ↑ Clegg: A New Approach to Industrial Democracy (Blackwell 1960)
- ↑ Gillespie: Free Expression in Industry (Pilot Press 1948)
- ↑ Falk: The Business of Management (Penguin 1962)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Lasswell & Kaplan: Power and Society (Routledge 1952)
- ↑ Russell: Power (W. W. Norton 1938)
- ↑ Tawney: Equality (Harcourt Brace 1931)
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Melman: Decision-Making and Productivity (Blackwell 1958)
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Likert: New Patterns of Management (McGraw-Hill 1961)
- ↑ Michels: Political Parties (Hearsts 1915)
- ↑ Gillespie: Dynamic Motion and Time Study (Paul Elek 1948)
- ↑ Freud: Civilization and its Discontents (Hogarth Press 1946)
- ↑ Jung: Psychology of the Unconscious (Kegan Paul 1944)
- ↑ Walker and Guest: The Man on the Assembly Line (Harvard 1952)
- ↑ Fromm: The Fear of Freedom (Kegan Paul 1946)
- ↑ Edwards, in “Co-
partnership” Oct 1963
- ↑ Scott: Joint Consultation in a Liverpool Firm (Liverpool U.P. 1950)
- ↑ Klein: The Meaning of Work (Fabian Society 1963)
- ↑ Davies: Formal Consultation in Practice (Industrial Welfare Society 1962)
- ↑ Annual Report of the National Joint Advisory Council of the Electricity Supply Industry 1962-63
- ↑ <span data-html="true" class="plainlinks" title="Wikipedia: Richards">Richards and <span data-html="true" class="plainlinks" title="Wikipedia: Sallis">Sallis: The Joint Consultative Committee and the Working Group, in “Public Administration” Winter 1961
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 Johnson: Group Discussion (Central Council for Health Education 1954)
- ↑ Beer: Operational Research and Cybernetics (Namur 1956)
Beer: Cybernetics and Management (English Univ. Press 1959)
Pask: An Approach to Cybernetics (Hutchinson 1961)
- ↑ Dubreuil: A Chance for Everybody (Chatto and Windus 1939)
- ↑ Gillespie: Foundry Organization and Management (Pitman 1945)
- ↑ Herbst: Autonomous Group Functioning (Tavistock Publications 1963)
- ↑ Trist et al.: Organisational Choice (Tavistock Publications 1962)
- ↑ Temple: Christianity and Social Order (SCM Press 1950)
- ↑ Papal Encyclicals (Catholic Truth Society)
- ↑ Homans: The Human Group (Routledge and Kegan Paul 1956)
- ↑ Aarek: From Loneliness to Fellowship (Society of Friends 1959)