Monday, June 7, 2010

War Conversion : The Concept of the Corporation Chapter 2

The Gospels are rarely considered as a source of wisdom for military planning. “What king,” says the book of Luke, “going to make war against another king sitteth not down first and consulted whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:31, In case you have any interest).

Drucker is more than passing familiar with the Bible but he does not make the connection with this idea as he describes how General Motors prepared for the war. It is, of course, a planning problem that requires lots of information. The senior management began working on war plans in January 1941, about 6 months after the US military starting making their plans. They looked at it systematically, a decided two things:

  • First, they would bid only on difficult and critical tasks, a strategy that would allow them to learn the most from the war.
  • Second, their ability to take war work would be limited by the amount of labor in the 20 areas of the country in which their plants were located. They completed their plans by January 1942 and identified the limits of work for each division.

Most of the research on General Motors war conversion deals with those labor issues. They see it as expanding the bureaucratic management of labor and the rise of human resource departments. All of that is fine but I am reminded that the mathematician Karl Pearson got involved in the first world war because the British government needed a survey of available labor. He had the staff able to handle it. What tools and technologies were needed by GM in 1942?

No comments:

Post a Comment