Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Informal Post: Soldiering

While reading “The Principles of Scientific Management”, Taylor’s description of soldiering made me think about my previous summer work and how I actually partook in this practice. My job didn’t involve machinery or massive soldiering, but it was still evident. Working alongside a few of my friends for an accounting firm for a few years, some of our strategies definitely would be considered soldiering as Taylor describes it. Mainly our jobs were odds and ends type work – collecting paper to be shredded, running errands for the firm, etc. Where soldiering came in were our larger projects of organizing/moving/shifting the various files. Much of the time we would work at a much less than optimal pace and for many of the reasons described by Taylor: natural laziness and pressure from coworkers to limit the amount of work and not set oneself apart. The key to being able to work so slowly is also described by Taylor and I almost laughed when I read it – “As to the second cause for soldiering – the relations which exist between employers and employees under almost all of the systems of management which are in common use – it is impossible in a few words to make it clear to one not familiar with this problem why it is that the ignorance of employers as to the proper time in which work of various kinds should be done makes it for the interest of the workman to “soldier”” (6). Since the file management jobs we were doing were so much below all of the accountants, none of them knew how long it would take to actually do the work. As a result, soldiering was both easier to do as well as made sense to do. There was no incentive to get all the work done expediently and we would just move on to a bigger project afterwards anyway.

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