Creativity, Complexity and Qualitative Economic Development

  • Åke E. Andersson
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 258)


The basic principles of work organization in the coming industrial society were clarified by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, first published in 1776. And this book not only formulated the basic doctrine of the competitive economy and the constitutional rules needed for the smooth functioning of competition. To many the industrial revolution is perceived as a transformation from a society based on manual labor into a society with a production system based on machinery driven by manual based energy sources. However, this is a very minor aspect of Smith’s vision. The core of his analysis is organizational. And the basic principle of industrial organization is simplification by division of labor. The creation of new ideas, products and industries is reserved for the entrepreneurial capitalists. The masses are relegated to operation of simplified processes, requiring a minimum of education. The rising productivity can be accomplished by a properly iterated use of people performing simple tasks:

To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture; but one in which the division of labour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of the pin-maker; a workman not educated to this business (which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labour has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. 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, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them. I have seen a small manufactory of this kind where ten men only were employed, and where some of them consequently performed two or three distinct operations. But though they were very poor, and therefore but indifferently accommodated with the necessary machinery, they could, when they exerted themselves, make among them about twelve pounds of pins in a day. There are in a pound upwards of four thousand pins of a middling size. Those ten persons, therefore, could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins in a day. Each person, therefore, making a tenth part of forty-eight thousand pins, might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day. But if they had all wrought separately and independently, and without any of them having been educated to this peculiar business, they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day; that is, certainly, not the two hundred and fortieth, perhaps not the four thousand eight hundredth part of what they are at present capable of performing, in consequence of a proper division and combination of their different operations. Adam Smith, (1776) An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations, vol I.


Hedonic Price Critical Idea Entrepreneurial Capitalist Hedonic Prex Creative Region 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Åke E. Andersson
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Futures StudiesSweden

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