Organization of Labor

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Organization of Labor


the ordering of human labor according to a definite system. A distinction is made between the social organization of labor as a whole and the organization of labor within a particular producers’ collective. The social organization of labor is bound up with a number of general factors that, taken together, make it possible for production to occur regardless of the social form of production. These factors include the involvement of people in the labor process, the uniting of labor power with the means of production, the division and cooperation of labor on the societal level, the distribution of the fruits of labor among members of society, and the reproduction of labor power. However, in different socioeconomic formations these general features are expressed in specific forms determined by the relations of production that prevail in the particular society and by the form of ownership of the means of production.

The anarchy of social production inherent in the capitalist system rules out the possibility of a scientific approach to the problem of the social organization of labor. Under capitalism social labor is organized in the interests of the class that owns the means of production and exploits wage labor. Under socialism it becomes both possible and necessary for the state, acting in a conscious, purposeful, and scientific manner, to influence the organization of labor at all levels from that of society as a whole down to a given production collective. This social organization of labor makes it possible to regulate the ordering, coordination, and combination of labor activity in a centralized way and on a strictly scientific basis in all branches and spheres of the socialist national economy.

Social labor is much more highly organized under socialism than under capitalism. Lenin wrote that “the proletariat represents and creates a higher type of social organization of labor compared with capitalism. This is what is important, this is the source of the strength and the guarantee that the final triumph of communism is inevitable” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 39, p. 13). In contrast to its status under capitalism, the organization of labor under socialism has a planned character and is based on the economic laws of socialism. At its foundations lie such important principles as the universal right to work, guaranteed payment for work, and the obligation of all able-bodied members of society to engage in labor.

The social organization of labor under socialism is characterized by the systematic involvement of people in labor and by a planned division and cooperation of labor in society. It is further characterized by the distribution of the social product according to the fundamental principle of socialism—from each according to his ability; to each according to his labor. Finally it is characterized by the inherent laws of socialism in regard to the reproduction of labor power, and by relations of comradely cooperation and mutual aid among people who are free of exploitation.

The organization of labor within a particular production collective, such as a factory, for example, constitutes a system for using live labor, a system that ensures the efficient functioning of labor power. All work, regardless of its social form, requires definite organization wherever a group of workers are associated in labor. Such organization presupposes the selection and professional training of personnel, the development of work procedures by which the required type of work can be accomplished, and the division and cooperation of labor within the collective. Organization involves the deployment of workers according to the nature of the tasks they face, the arrangement of the workplace such that each worker can perform his assigned functions, and the creation of working conditions conducive to job performance. Organization also entails the fixing of quotas for individual workers to help arrive at a uniform measure of work performed, to achieve the necessary balance in the amounts of work of various types, and to accomplish this work in a manner consistent with the nature and volume of the job. Finally, the organization of labor encompasses the organization of wage payments and the establishment of labor discipline sufficient to maintain the necessary order and coordination in work. These general propositions, however, define only the organizational and technical aspects of the problem of organizing the labor of a collective.

As Marx pointed out, “All production is the appropriation by the individual of the objects of nature within the confines of a particular social form and by means of that social form” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 12, p. 713). The labor process is, on the one hand, the process by which human beings act upon the objects of nature so as to adapt them to human needs. On the other hand, in the labor process people enter into definite social relations with one another, and therefore labor is also a social phenomenon. This means that the organization of labor cannot be reduced to the merely organizational and technical aspect of human work.

To the extent that the process of production constitutes a unity involving live labor, the instruments of labor, and the objects of labor, the task of organizing production consists in the rational use of live labor, on the one hand, and the rational use of the material elements of production, that is, the instruments and objects of labor, on the other. No production process can be carried out without using labor power, or in other words, without purposeful human activity. The organized labor of people in any enterprise is an indispensable condition for the functioning of production, and the organization of this labor is an essential part of the process of organizing production. Thus the object of the organization of labor is not production in general but live labor, the workers in a particular production collective.

The organization of labor within a particular production collective is not only a factor in material production. In any branch or sphere of the national economy, the organization of labor is an essential element in the overall organization of the activities of the personnel in any given enterprise, such as a factory or office.

The organizational forms for making use of live labor in a collective are directly influenced by a number of factors that, taken together, determine the level of organization of labor. Among these factors are the level of development of the instruments of production, the level of technological refinement, the manner in which the production processes are organized, the administrative forms and management techniques applied to the collective, the availability of material and technical supplies, and the methods used for servicing production. The successful functioning of a production collective depends on systematic and comprehensive improvement in all the elements that go into the organization of the collective’s operations. Among these elements, the organization of live labor is one of the most important. In order to produce continuous improvement in the organization of labor it is imperative that use be made of the latest achievements in science and in practical experience.




The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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