Advantages and disadvantages of division of labour: In the primitive world, a man provided his own food, made his hunting implements and fashioned his simple furniture. With the growth of the economy, production moved a little away from simply production in which one man played all the parts, to a system whereby communities had their bakers, black-Smiths, Carpenters, Shoemaker and so on, each person specializing in his own field and exchanging his monetary rewards for commodities he could not produce. This was called division of labour in a simple form. In this article, we will be taking a birdseye view of the meaning, advantages and disadvantages of division of labour and specialization in economics.
Division of Labour is defined as the braking down of a production process into a number of separate operations, whereby each operation is undertaken or performed by one person or a group of persons. It is a complex process mainly practiced in industrialized communities where a worker specializes in the production of small portion of a product and he may not see the end product and may not make use of it.
It is important to note that Division of Labour is different from specialization because while specialization is the concentration of the productive effects of an individual, a firm or a country in a given aspect of economic activity or on a particular line of production in which is has the greatest advantage over others, division of labour is simply the segmentation of work.
Division of labour, for example, exist in the publishing industry where each worker or group of workers or individuals are involved in writing of manuscript, typing of manuscript, editing, filming and plating, printing, folding, collating, sewing, binding and finally trimming.
It is the Joint effort of all these group of workers that enable a complete book to be produced.
Advantages of Division of Labour
Below are the factors or advantages that encourages most entrepreneurs to adopt division of labour in production.
1. Increase in production
No doubt, Division of Labour and specialization often leads to increase in production because the various experts along the production process work together to boost greater productivity. Think about it this way; if many persons are asked to do a job instead of just one person, there will obviously be an efficient and larger outcome.
2. Time saving
Another advantage of division of labour is that it helps to save time that would have been wasted in moving from one operation to another. This is so where the job that needs to be done requires a lot of skills. So, instead of moving from one operation to another, division of labour makes the it even faster.
3. Development of greater skill
Consistency is what grows the experience of a worker in any profession. Division of labour and specialization enables workers to develop greater skill and experience through repetition of the same process. Nonetheless, this can also be a disadvantage because it will inversely reduce creativity too.
4. Large scale of production
As more persons work in a division of labour, more results will be given. Consequently, it is right to say that Division of labour and specialization leads to large production of goods or products.
5. Lower unit cost
Since division of labour leads to greater productivity, that is, large quantities are produced and less time, the unit cost of the product will be less.
6. Economy in the use of tools
In specialization, a worker need not share the tools which he frequently uses, but can keep them and be held responsible for them. If he were to acquire all the tools, some of them would be left idle most of the time. Also, If he had to share tools with others, he might waste some time waiting for his turn to use them.
7. Less fatigue
In division of labour a worker concentrates on only a portion of the production and since he makes use of machines and work together with others, he does not get tired easily.
8. Production of standard goods
Division of labour and specialization helps to produce standard goods which possess the same specifications like, size, color, shape, weight etc.
9. Creation of employment opportunities
Government of many countries have adopted the concept of division of labour to increase employment opportunity in their country to about 50%. It is a tentative way to kill unemployment among youths and crime rate in the country.
Disadvantages of division of labour
Below are the disadvantages or demerits of division of labour:
1. Monotony or repetition
In division of labour, a worker performs the same job on daily basis, the job therefore becomes monotonous and boring to him and this may lead to loss of interest in job being done.
2. Decline in craftsmanship
As a result of the use of machines in division of labour, workers may no longer make use of their skills in the production of goods, rather, they become machine-minded.
3. Reduction in employment opportunities
In the division of labour, machines are usually used with few workers. This tends to reduce the level of employment among the workers.
4. Problem of mobility of labour
Under division of labour, a worker stays on a single job for a long time and this makes it difficult for him to move to other jobs.
5. Problem from increased interdependence
Division of labour has meant that workers and industries may have to depend on one other before production can take place. Absence of such workers or industry may result in the closure of the entire production.
Factors that may limit division of labour
Many factors limit the importance of division of labour and specialization. These factors may either encourage or discourage the diversity of labour depending on whether they are favorable or unfavorable.
1. The size of the market
If the size of the market is large and it can absorb all the quantities of goods produced, then division of labour is favored. But in situation where the market is small, division of labour is not encouraged.
2. The nature of the products
Products can be broken down into stages will require division of labour whereas products that can not be broken down into stages, eg. Driving, Barbing, hairdressing, etc, tend to limit the application of division of labour in production.
3. Level of technology
The level of technology sets a limit to the extent of specialization. New technology breakthrough may allow further specialization and division of labour.
4. Availability of capital
Capital must be available in sufficient quantity to enable adequate payment of salaries and wages to workers and other materials to be purchased.
5. Availability of labour
The availability of labour qualified workerd determines the stages into which production process will be divided. Lack of qualified labour limits the advantages of division of labour in production.