THE CHALLENGE TO MANAGEMENT
The new industrial revolution--Automation: science fiction and reality--What is Automation?--Conceptual principles, not techniques or gadgets--Automation and the worker--Automation, planning and monopoly--The demands on the manager.
MANAGEMENT faces the first great test of its competence and its hardest task in the imminent industrial revolution which we call "Automation."
A lot of rather lurid "science fiction" is being written today about Automation. The "push-button factory" is the least fantastic of them (though it, too, is largely nonsense). The coming of the new technology has revived all the slogans of the "planners" of the thirties. It is producing a new crop of penny-dreadfuls purporting to give us a glimpse of that nightmare, the technocrat's paradise, in which no human decisions, no human responsibility, no human management is needed, and in which the push button run by its own "electronic brain" produces and distributes abundant wealth.
Specifically we are being told in these mathematical romances that the new technology will require such capital investments as to make impossible all but the giant business. We are told--in Europe even more than here--that it will make almost inevitable the elimination of competition and will make both possible and necessary the nationalization of the resulting giant monopolies. We are told that the push-button factory of the future will have practically no workers (though who will buy the unlimited supply of goods it will spew out if everyone lives in enforced idleness we are not