The division of labour is a type of specialisation. In basic terms, it is when the production of a good is broken up into many smaller tasks and these tasks are divided up among the workforce, each worker/group of workers concentrates on a different task. An example of division of labour could be production in a car factory. The workers at the factory are split up into their specific task groups and trained to complete their bit of the production process. Then, one group will put together the engine, one group the bodywork, another group on the braking and so on and so forth until all the parts to the car are created and assembled.
There are both good and bad points to the division of labour. Advantages first...
- Workers become more practised at the task in hand - The workers will be doing the same small task over and over again and will naturally become better at performing that task.
- Increased efficiency - Splitting the production task amongst a group of workers results in a greater output and higher productivity than if the each worker is making the whole good alone.
- Workers become bored - Repeating the same task over and over again will no doubt cause workers to become bored, which will lead to inefficiency and lower output.
- One section failing could limit production - If the workers concentrating on a certain task begin to slack, or stop working altogether through problems such as faulty machinery, then the whole production line grounds to a halt and no/smaller amounts of finished goods are produced.
- Workers receive a very narrow training, limiting future job opportunities - The workers will receive training in that particular task, which may not be a skill needed in other industries/jobs, and at the same time they may be losing important job skills such as communication or administrative skills.