Monday, 12 October, 2009

The human robot

The assembly line worker is characterised as a human robot everywhere, from literature to management texts. Chaplin’s Modern Times is possibly the best example of this view.

Yet, have we ever wondered, even less inquired, what the poor assembly line worker thinks of his job. In the developed world, the line enables many otherwise unemployable people to lead decent lives (by the standards of poor countries). In poor countries, it’s the only defence against starvation.

The workers’ feelings towards his assembly line may be quite different from what the novelist and the management guru insist they are.

Also, has someone researched innovation on the shop floor, especially in Japan.

Lastly, take the jute mills of Howrah. During the Second World War, mill owners amassed fortunes from machines that had, theoretically, long given up the ghost. How did they do it? With brain-dead labourers? I suspect not. 

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