By Sarah Skwire
Thursday, June 02, 2016 - fee.org
The division of labor might be my favorite human invention.
Last week, I mowed my lawn, cleaned my house, removed a hornet’s nest from my back porch, and killed the weeds on my lawn.
I did it all while I was in California, about 2,000 miles away from home.
And I did it all because of the division of labor.
Most often, when we teach or think about the division of labor, we think about Adam Smith
’s classic example in The Wealth of Nations
of the division of labor in a pin factory.
But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on, is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands.
Smith’s focus in his discussion of the division of labor is the way in which increased specialization increases productivity within an industry. Dividing up the jobs involved in making pins means that a lot more pins can be made a lot faster, and often a lot better, than if we stick with individually handcrafted artisanal pins.Full Article: