The Economic Effects of Labour Competition in the Years 1947-1955
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In 1947-1955 labour competition was primarily a form of mobilising workers aimed at increasing productivity. Throughout the whole period, official reports recorded a rising number of competitors, although this growth did not denote a positive economic outcome. There were several reasons for this state of affairs. First, the majority of the reports were maintained in the spirit of a 'magic of large numbers'. One of their characteristic features was 'official optimism', which meant that the reports' reliability was extremely low. Another factor impacting competition effectiveness was the attitude of assorted levels of industrial administration and the workers themselves. In the conditions of central planning and a deficiency economy, the level of industrial production was the object of a specific game played by the planners, particular rungs of the industrial administration, and the workers. Consequently, competition was regarded as a 'necessary evil'. The discussed period also entailed a discernible evolution of the very phenomenon of labour competition. The first years after its introduction were marked by a contest for production records and the transgression of norms at all costs. Frequent practices included manipulation striving at repeatedly exceeding the production norms and setting new records. The actual effects of such campaigns were extremely low. Succeeding years witnessed a change in the stress on the competition movement. New forms, proposed after 1950, placed greater emphasis on the organisation of labour, the improvement of quality or cost-cutting. Until the end of the discussed period, however, it proved impossible to devise such a form, which could be considered also economically effective.
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