Reduced Costs Through Job Enlargement: A Case
Author(s): Maurice D. Kilbridge
Source: The Journal of Business, Vol. 33, No. 4 (Oct., 1960), pp. 357-362 Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2350917 .
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REDUCED COSTS THROUGH JOB ENLARGEMENT: A CASE
MAURICE D. KILBRIDGE*
term "jobenlargement" cur- job enlargement can be more efficient
rently used in Americanindustryto
describe the trend toward putting
back into industrial work some of the
skill, responsibility, and variety that
have been eliminated by the excessive
division of labor. The literaturecontains
many accountsof successfuljob enlargement in both mechanical and clerical work.1Generally,the success is stated in
terms of greaterworkersatisfaction and
management-labor rapport. Manufacturing costs are usually cited only in a negative way, to the effect that they
have not increased, or else mention is
made that, although wage rates increased because of the greater skill and responsibility demands of the enlarged,
upgraded jobs, it was hoped that increasesin productivityand improvement of quality would offset this. One gets the
uneasy feeling from studying accountsof
job enlargementthat it may yield vague
and indirectsavings in the long term but
that in the short term it is almost certain
to increasethe cost of directlabor. If this
is so, the prospect for job enlargement
would appeardim, since currenttangible
costs usually argue more cogently than
future intangible savings.
The case presented here shows that
* Professor of production management, Graduate
School of Business, University of Chicago.
1 Cf. Robert H. Guest, "Job Enlargement: A
Revolution in Job Design," Personnel Administration, XX, No. 2 (March-April, 1957), 9-16; J. Douglas Elliott, "Increasing Office Productivity through Job Enlargement," in The Human Side of the Office
Manager's Job ("Office Management Series," No.
134 [New York: American Management Association,
19531), pp. 3-15.
than job specialization is, especially if
the latter is carriedtoo far. The analysis
is based on tangible cost savings only.
Although it does not argue the costreduction case for job enlargement in general, it illustrates clearly that there
is an optimum extent to the division of
labor and that, when division is carried
too far, labor costs tend to increase.
Before the case is discussed, it would
be well to agreeon a definitionof job enlargement. The literature seems to provide no complete and explicit definition. Perhaps the best is that of Elliott, who
definesit, largely in terms of its effect on
workers, as "changingthe job itself, by
enriching or enlarging it to include a
greatervariety of operationsto lessen the
monotony and to utilize more fully the
potential skills and intellectual abilities
of the individual."2 By inference from
this and cases of job enlargement described in the literature, the following explicit definition is proposed: Job enlargement is the expansion of job content to include a wider variety of tasks and to
increase the worker'sfreedom of pace, responsibility for...
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