Henry Ford insisted that his development of mass production owed nothing to Taylorism. But Ford and Taylor can only be understood as part of a wider revolution in American management that prioritized efficiency, experimentation and flow. Following Foucault, Henry Ford represented the rationalizing capability of ‘sovereign power’. Ford’s radical innovations in production techniques depended upon parallel innovations in administration and accounting. The development of the moving assembly line in Highland Park depended upon an assemblage of organizational innovations, not just the practical experiments of Ford engineers. In 1921 Ford’s complex knowledge base was brutally dismantled in Ford’s giant new River Rouge plant. Incremental productivity gains were now squeezed from the line by supervisory pressure. The Ford experience suggests the interweaving of ‘sovereign’ and ‘disciplinary’ forms of power/knowledge.
- assembly line
- River Rouge