Whatever the reason, Ford’s higher wages were successful. Applications to work at the Dearborn, Mich. factory soared and turnover plummeted.
Ford’s advanced production methods were so effective that other automakers and companies in every industry followed suit. Fordism, ”the eponymous manufacturing system designed to spew out standardized, low-cost goods and afford its workers decent enough wages to buy them,” spread rapidly around the world.
It was good for the workers too. The average Ford worker in 1914 had savings of $207.10; workers who stayed at the factory for the next five years would amass $2,171.14 in savings on average, according to author Richard Snow. Sure enough, they were entering the middle class.
Henry Ford, who was born 150 years ago today, is remembered as the guy who unleashed the full potential of the assembly line, beginning in 1913 when the Ford Motor Company cranked out Model T’s much faster and cheaper than anyone could imagine.But his business philosophy, known as Fordism, went beyond the implementation of mass production.
Ford argued that high wages were essential for economic and moral reasons. As he wrote in his autobiography:
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