Specialization of Production

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Specialization of Production


a form of social division of labor, expressed in the ramification of existing branches of production, the emergence of new branches of production, and the division of labor within branches of industry. As production grows more specialized, the social character of production becomes more pronounced. Scientific and technological progress and larger scales of production are the factors most important in increases in specialization. As V. I. Lenin pointed out, the specialization of social labor is “by its very nature as infinite as technical developments” (Poln. sobr. soch. , 5th ed., vol. 1, p. 95).

Specialization is characteristic of all branches of material production and characteristic of the nonproductive sphere. It is most advanced in industry.

Any increase in the number of separate and independent branches of industry signifies that the processes involved in the production of goods of different kinds have become separate and distinct and that the range of goods of the same kind has been narrowed, while the scales of production of these goods have increased, in the enterprises that together make up a given branch of industry. Of the characteristics that distinguish the specialization of a given branch of industry or a given enterprise, the primary characteristic is the kind of goods produced.

The most comprehensive index of the fundamental changes that have taken place in the specialization of industry in the USSR is the increase in the number of separate and independent branches of industry, many of which in turn comprise subbranch-es. The specialization of branches of industry is complemented by the specialization of the enterprises within each branch of industry for the production of goods similar both in design and in technology.

The number of separate and independent branches of industry increases not only as the processes involved in the production of finished goods of different kinds become separate and distinct but also as the processes involved in the production of individual parts and components of the finished goods become separate and distinct, as well as the individual operations involved in the technological process of manufacture. Depending on which part of the production process is singled out and treated as an independent branch of industry, three basic types of specialization of production may be distinguished: product specialization, parts specialization, and phase specialization. Product specialization is exemplified by automobile and tractor plants and by footwear and clothing factories, which produce finished goods of a single kind. Parts specialization is exemplified by ball-bearing plants, by plants that make automotive pistons, by plants that make industrial fastenings, by plants that produce construction components, and by other enterprises that produce components and subassemblies. Phase specialization is exemplified by foundries, by forging and pressing mills, and by assembly plants in machine building.

In the industry of the USSR, product specialization is the most common type of specialization. Parts specialization and phase specialization have been less well developed. In machine building, parts specialization has made headway in automobile and tractor manufacture and in the aviation industry. The conversion of plants that specialize in the production of finished goods into enterprises that specialize in assembly presupposes the creation of an extensive network of enterprises specialized in terms of parts and phases; this, in turn, is one of the essential preconditions for the expansion of production links, that is, for achieving cooperation in industry (seeCOOPERATION IN INDUSTRY).

In agriculture, specialization of production takes account not only of economic, social, and demographic factors but also the factors specific to agricultural production, such as natural conditions, the biological properties of plants and animals, the special features of land use, the material and labor resources, and transportation facilities. Thus, many farms are in effect amalgamated enterprises, which combine several sectors of varying economic importance. The basic, or primary, sectors are those most important in a commercial sense, and they are given preferential treatment. The auxiliary sectors are of less importance for commercial production, but they contribute to the growth of the basic and associated sectors. The subsidiary sectors and lines of production serve the primary and auxiliary sectors.

Depending on which basic sector or which combination of sectors is chosen for specialization, farms are oriented to various kinds of production—such as grains, cotton, sugar beets, dairy products, and meat and dairy products. Specialization may be of various kinds, such as interfarm specialization, intrafarm specialization, and intrasector specialization.

Several types of farms are distinguished in terms of specialization. Narrowly specialized farms, those that specialize in a single sector, are well adapted for agricultural sectors marked by a ca-denced production cycle and not subject to sharp seasonal variations, sectors such as poultry husbandry, swine breeding, and hothouse truck farming. Enterprises with narrow specialization are the best suited to concentration and standardization of production, the introduction of industrial methods, and interfarm cooperation (seePOULTRY FARM, ANIMAL-BREEDING COMPLEXES, INTERKOLKHOZ ENTERPRISES, and AGRARIAN AND INDUSTRIAL CONGLOMERATE). Specialized farms, those with a limited number of sectors, are well adapted to the breeding of swine, the raising of sugar beets, the production of vegetables and dairy products, and other operations that produce several basic commodities. The sectors that give such farms their characteristic profile are usually large enough to allow comprehensive mechanization of production and the use of progressive technology. Unspecialized, or multisector, agricultural enterprises have no distinct line of specialization; in order to raise the concentration of production, however, intrafarm specialization can be applied.

At the present stage of agricultural development, specialization and concentration of production and the expansion of interfarm cooperation are the main features of the party’s agrarian policy. Of historic importance is the decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU of June 2, 1976, On the Further Development of the Specialization and Concentration of Agricultural Production on the Basis of Interfarm Cooperation and Agrarian-Industrial Integration.

Specialization is also moving forward in transportation. Transportation by road, rail, sea, and river is being specialized, special means of transportation—for example, oceangoing tankers and railroad tank cars—are coming into use, and container transport is growing.

In construction, specialization has led to a situation in which the industry has become increasingly confined to the erection of buildings and other structures. The parts and components used in construction are increasingly being produced in factory conditions, and out of this process are emerging separate and distinct branches of the building-materials industry.

The material basis for the specialization of production is differentiation in the instruments of labor. The growth of specialization has proceeded in close interaction with the emergence of specialized technology, the growing variety of objects of labor, the increase in scales of production and product selection, the standardization of parts and products, and change in the professional division of labor. The concentration of production in specialized enterprises permits the use of specialized and highly productive machines and equipment more fully than at more diversified enterprises.

The character and purposes of specialization depend on the mode of production. Under capitalism, as technology moves forward and as the structure of production changes, the number of separate and independent branches of industry increases. In several capitalist countries, parts specialization and phase specialization are also common. In the motor-vehicle, electrical, and radio industries of the USA, the leading firms have a large network of specialized affiliates, which produce individual subassemblies and parts. The large monopolies hold sway over these affiliated enterprises, dictating prices, setting volumes of production, and controlling other aspects of economic activity. They employ specialization as a means of exploiting the working people and increasing their own profits. In the capitalist economy, specialization heightens the anarchy of production and leads to imbalances; it intensifies the features associated with business crises.

Under socialism, the specialization of production is developed in a planned fashion. Specialization has a prominent place in the international socialist division of labor (seeINTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST DIVISION OF LABOR and INTERNATIONAL INDUSTRIAL SPECIALIZATION AND COOPERATION AMONG SOCIALIST COUNTRIES).

Progress in specialization is essential to rapid growth and improvement of production. For specialized enterprises—those that engage in large-lot and mass production of a single type of goods and that use highly productive and specialized equipment, progressive technology, and advanced forms for the organization of production and labor—the economic advantages are clear. Such enterprises can improve the utilization of the instruments of labor and material resources, raise the skills and labor productivity of the workers, lower costs and raise the rate of profit, and save on investments of capital.

Larger and more specialized interbranch production goes hand in hand with significant increases in economic efficiency. The average cost of production in specialized enterprises is lower than in nonspecialized enterprises—for example, 40–60 percent lower for 1 ton of iron casting and 30–40 percent for 1 ton of forgings and stampings. When the enterprises of a given branch of industry are too specialized, however, the geographical limits within which each enterprise’s finished products are delivered are extended, and the distances to the consumers, and therefore the transportation costs, are increased. As a result, product costs rise.

The establishment of production associations is greatly conducive to the growth and development of specialization of production.


Berri, L. la. Spetsializatsiia i kooperirovanie v promyshlennosti SSSR. Moscow, 1954.
Efimov, A. N. Spetsializatsiia promyshlennogo proizvodslva i ekono-mikapredpriiatiia. Moscow, 1958.
Orlov, N. A., E. N. Slastenko, and E. S. Iampol’skii. Spetsializatsiia i kooperirovanie vpromyshlennosti SSSR. Moscow, 1964.
Makarov, N. P. Ekonomicheskie osnovy organizatsii proizvodstva v kolkhozakh isovkhozakh. Moscow, 1966.
Tsynkov, M. lu. Proizvodstvo moloka i miasa v spetsializirovannykh molochnykh i molochno-miasnykh khoziaistvakh. Moscow, 1970.
Sel’skoe khoziaistvo SSSR na sovremennom étape. Moscow, 1972.
Lopatina, O. F., and S. V. Fraer. Ekonomika sotsialisticheskogo sel’skogo khoziaistva. Moscow, 1973.
Gazaliev, M. V., and T. P. Nikonova. Planirovanie i ekonomicheskoestimulirovanie spetsializatsii promyshlennogo proizvodstva. Mos cow, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The specific production technology influences the way scheduling production of objects in space and in time work, the degree of specialization of production structures and the degree of continuity of production.
I especially liked the specialization of production systems management because, to me, the business aspect of agriculture is just as important as the science side.
Now, for the first time, specialization of production on a worldwide scale was a central element of economic life in all the countries that participated.
One main theme concerns the ways in which agricultural commercialization leads to areal specialization of production. The Pearl River Delta shifts from being a rice surplus producing area in the fifteenth century to becoming a rice importing area by th e eighteenth century in which peasants produce sugar, weave silk, and import raw cotton to weave cotton textiles.
Up to the Tanzimat period of administrative reform, 1839 through 1876, Ottoman administration was based on maintenance of the status quo among autonomous ethno-religious communities that maintained their economic viability through specialization of production (professions and crafts).
The clear upward trend in the import ratio can be taken as a sign of the ongoing international specialization of production and the attendant increase in cross-border trade.