The success of Henry Ford’s motor company was largely due to his introduction of the assembly line whereby each task in the process of creating a product is done repeatedly by an individual instead of one person making an entire product. This Fordism was then enhanced by Frederick Taylor who used “Scientific Management” to make control of factories vertical; “to wrest control of the production process out of the hands of the skilled craftsmen and to centralize control of the production process in the hands of managers” (Dunn, 10). Labor was separated into manual and mental. Manual labor was done by the “unintelligent” who worked the assembly lines and mental labor was done by managers who organized the production system and sought ways to increase productivity. Breaking down the individual tasks of workers even further, managers analyzed employee’s every move so as to eliminate any unnecessary steps in their task and complete the task as many times as possible in the least amount of time.
The Alima-Gerber baby food factory in Poland, like many other socialist factories, initially based its production system on a Fordist/Taylorist model. As well as these models worked in capitalist companies, however, they had to be greatly adapted to fit into the socialist economy. Firstly, management was not centralized in the firm, but in the state because it controlled the means of production. It also controlled supplies, which were not often plentiful. This led to hoarding and shortages, like those described by Verdery in her “What was Socialism and What Comes Next?”. As a result of these shortages, production was not constant and efficient as ideal Fordism should be. Employees “stormed” (Dunn, 16) when certain products were available, scrambling to produce as much as possible, were idle during shortages, and sometimes resorted to making products other than baby food so as not to waste what they did have. Through this, the separation between mental and manual labor was undone as workers had to decide for themselves what to do with different quality supplies (fruits of different ripeness, different sized jars, etc.) in ways that varied from their stipulated instructions.
Although socialist and capitalist production systems were based upon the same Fordist and Taylorist models, they evolved quite differently and became two completely different entities. This proved problematic when capitalist managers assumed that they could start over, going back to before socialism began and recreate a capitalist Fordist production system in post-socialist Poland.