Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management offered the early Soviet Union’s economy what it badly needed at the time. The book provided government officials with the “know how” to compete with industrially advanced nations through the utilization of scientific managerial practices. Taylor’s research allowed the USSR to integrate advancing technology and eliminate outdated industrial practices and most importantly: dramatically improve its productivity within Russian factories (Grachev, Rakitsky).
Prior to the Russia’s acceptance of Taylorism, the country, though containing a massive workforce, was faced with conflict between its oversupply of labor and an underdeveloped industrial infrastructure, lack of safety concerns, and insufficient organization (Grachev, Rakitsky).
In response to the rocky economic environment of the early 20th century, many industrialists and government leaders in Russia turned to Taylor’s organizational system and efficiency techniques that had been emerging successfully in the US (Grachev, Rakitsky).
Utilization of the Taylor system within the early USSR resulted in turning many skilled laborers into industrial managers and integrating a piece rate system instead of a uniform system of wages (Bailes).
“Piece wages should be fixed for all industries without exception…To keep account of productivity and maintain discipline it is necessary to set up industrial courts, to form groups of controllers of various trades, not at the enterprise, but from outside, and enlisting the cooperation of engineers, book-keepers and peasants… Furthermore, it is necessary to organize output… in the transition to socialism may enable us to reduce the working day. The decree should mention accountancy and the printing of reports concerning the productivity of the various enterprises.”
-Vladimir Lenin 1918 (Lenin)
Implementation of Taylor’s concept of “functional foremen” was crucial during the early years of the Soviet Union, as industries suffered greatly from a lack of upper level managers within the factories. These managers would focus on concerns of production and planning within the factory. In addition, improved efficiency was encouraged through piece-rate performance plans. By 1931, 75 percent of Russian industrial workers were paid based on performance (Grachev, Rakitsky).
“As to penal measures for breaches of labor discipline, these are to be stricter. Punishment should go to the length of imprisonment. Dismissal, too, may be applied, but this will be of an entirely different nature. Under the capitalist system dismissal was a breach of a civic agreement. Now, a breach of discipline, especially with the introduction of compulsory labor service, will be a criminal offence subject to a definite punishment” (Lenin).
The USSR’s main base for developing and integrating Taylor’s system was the Central Institute of Labor. The CIL created a national training system that included medical and biological factors into the equation. These concepts were then integrated into Russian factories and areas of the Red Army as well. At its highest point, the institute grew to over 1,000 centers for research and training, serving to instruct over a million workers (Grachev, Rakitsky).