To-day in every well-managed printing office, as well as every other industry, there is a purchasing department. Materials are purchased, not through favors, or on account of bonus from the salesmen, but upon exact specifications which are worked out in the laboratory. Materials are accepted and paid for only after a laboratory analysis to ascertain their true worth. Materials are kept in a stores department and are issued only upon written requisitions. Requisitions are carefully checked up, records kept to show that each department is using only its proper quota of materials and supplies of all kinds.
While the purchasing of mere inanimate material, which after all is only secondary in importance, has thus been reduced to science and art in charge of specialists, the methods of selection, assignment, and handling of employees in nearly all industrial and commercial institutions continues to-day on the same old dishonest basis as that which we found in the printing and publishing house described. Foremen, superintendents, and heads of departments still guard jealously their prerogatives of hiring and firing. So deeply rooted is this prejudice in the minds of the industrial and commercial world, that many managers have said to us in horror, “Why, we can’t take away the power to hire and fire from our foremen. They couldn’t maintain discipline. They would not consent to remain in their executive positions if they did not have this power of life and death, as it were, over their employees.”
Incidentally, we may say, that we have had almost no trouble in securing the enthusiastic and loyal co-operation of foremen and superintendents where employment departments have been installed.
It is becoming increasingly clear to employers that, only by following the example of the purchasing department, can industry and commerce cure the evil which we have briefly described and exemplified in the two preceding chapters. We find that employment, instead of being left to the tender mercies of foremen, Tom, Dick, and Harry—who may or may not be good judges of men, who may or may not be honest, who may or may not indulge in nepotism, who may or may not pad the payroll; who may or may not be unreasonable, tyrannical and otherwise inimical to the best interest