Tayloristic rather than Taylorists: The Influence of Taylor on the East German Communists, 1945-51
Perhaps the most unexpected of Frederick Taylor‟s legacies is the alleged influence his ideas had in the Soviet world. This paper explores this contention by examining the introduction of differential piece rates and „scientific‟ norms—both key aspects of the Taylorist and Soviet systems—in East Germany between 1945 and 1951. As elsewhere, these measures faced stiff opposition. What made this experience different was that their introduction took place in the context of extreme economic and political uncertainty. As this paper outlines, the party‟s various attempts to impose workplace control laid the foundations for the Sovietisation of East Germany. This paper uses a variety of primary sources to tell this story. It concentrates its attention not just on worker resistance to change, but also on how the interactions between party and worker, between different organisations within the occupation zone, between the Soviets and German communists, and within the party itself came together to see piecework entrenched within the East German workplace. While Taylor‟s ideas influenced the party in this process, they did so only after they had been fed through the prisms of Leninism, Stalinism and Soviet experience. East Germany‟s communists were Tayloristic, not Taylorist.
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- Douglass C. North, 2005.
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