Essay on the Problems of Specialization of Labour

1. Specialization tends to increase the amount of red-tape in coordinating adjacent departments. As a result there is a widespread temptation to short-circuit the chain of command.

2. Specialization encourages departments to compete for the power and prestige, often destructively. As emphasis on specialization increases within organization, the various specialists began to identify themselves with their respective groups rather than with the organization as a whole. The groups of specialists concentrate on their own narrow interests rather than of their organization.

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3. Specialization usually means that the flow of work cuts across departmentives, causing substantial problems in maintaining cooperation. It also create many problems of coordination.

The theory is that each specialized unit operates independently; in practice, however a great many contacts are required in the normal flow of work if all the units are to complete their jobs successfully. Obviously, defective coordination is a rich source of friction.

4. Specialization impedes coordinated decision-making among mutually dependent work groups. In fact, specialization makes it difficult for subordinates to comprehend the relationship of their unique activities to the total objectives of the organization.

There are circumstances in modern organizations where the work of each department is so closely coordinated with that of the other departments in the organization that each departments’ decisions affect all the rest; and yet no department can make a decision without knowing what the others are doing. In this case, no problem can be solved without solving all the rest.

The doctrine of specialization is a bitter legacy of the classical and traditional thought in economic practice. The principle of “division of work” seems to be the forerunner of this myth.

It nevertheless has continued to feature in career planning, manpower development, and in the overall organizational philosophy of corporate and institutional bodies.

In applying this doctrine to contemporary society, both personnel executives and trainees are incurring very severe opportunity costs in their’ own life-long careers and job opportunities.

There is growing tendency towards de-emphasizing the possession of predetermined skills and on emphasizing the ability to adjust, accommodate, and sustain changes when they appear.

The Fundamentals:

There is no prior dichotomy between the so called “specialists” and the so called “generalists”. One does not have to choose between them. To pin such prejudicial labels on the profiles or intellect of people is indeed to betray the psychological and ecological advancements which have been made in professional manpower planning today.

There is a fast emerging tendency towards consolidation and integration among many sophisticated disciplines and professional areas of knowledge. Gone are the days of hair­splitting distinctions between specialties, and arbitrarily creating barriers between various professions. This is a further indication of the gradual, but certain reconsideration of the myth of specialization in the society.