(1) MR. KENT'S book belongs to a branch of investigation which has been specially developed in America. It might seem at first that business management scarcely belonged to science, but was rather a question of personal qualification, tact, and resource. When we speak of good management in this country we are inclined to regard it mainly as concerned with labour-saving methods. But this book, and others on the same lines, aim at applying to the faults of business the scientific methods of medical diagnosis; and Mr. Kent has given great vividness to his analysis by working it out in the concrete case of an individual business faced with competition and a falling market. To meet the case, each aspect of organisation, within and without the factory, is examined in detail by an expert. Is the location of the works where it should be, in view of the buying and selling markets, and conditions of transport? Are the buildings well equipped, and are they too large or too small for the most economical output? Is the power plant modern, or does it waste fuel? Are the high-priced men on work which really requires their skill, or are they being wasted on low-price work? What is the “load-factor” of the machinery—its percent-age of running full—both in general and for each machine? How are accounts kept and audited? Are the directors and manager “running full” themselves? An inquisition into each aspect shows, in the case taken, that the main technical fault is the want of a supplementary product to balance fluctuations in the main output, and occupy the spare factory space; while the main defect of organisation is in the work of the directors themselves. The book is full of the keen business spirit of America. Students of scientific economics will be interested to see how, in various detailed ways, the broad principles of the “marginal” method are illustrated.
(1) Investigating an Industry: a Scientific Diagnosis of the Diseases of Management.
By W. Kent. With an Introduction By H. L. Gantt. Pp. xi + 126. (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.; London: Chapman and Hall, Ltd., 1914.) Price 4s. 6d. net.
(2) Principles of Economics.
By Prof. H. R. Seager. Pp. xx + 650. (London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd.; New York: H. Holt and Co., 1913.) Price 10s. 6d. net.
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M., D. (1) Investigating an Industry: a Scientific Diagnosis of the Diseases of Management (2) Principles of Economics. Nature 93, 632 (1914) doi:10.1038/093632a0