Date of Award

Spring 1967

Document Type



Business, Accounting & Economics


In the past there has been a difference of opinion as to whether or not automation could be biased for unemployment. Some said no, that automation created as many jobs as it destroyed. Still others proposed that automation occurred at such a rapid rate that the Jobs eliminated exceeded those created. It is the objective of this paper to examine the evidence relative to this current question and then to base a conclusion upon this evidence.

Automation, according to the Standard College Dictionary, is the automatic transfer of one unit of a complex industrial assembly to a succession of machines, each of which completes another stage in manufacture. This is all well and good, but does this definition enable the average reader to completely grasp the essence of automation? I rather doubt it. In truth the term is extremely difficult to define completely and correctly. It Is similar to asking a theologian to define sin. Everyone, I'm sure, has at least a vague idea of what automation is. To an assembly line worker it nay mean the loss of his job. To the big businessman it may mean higher productivity and lower labor costs, in other words, higher profits. D. S. Harder, vice president of the Ford Motor Company and probable originator of the term automation calls it a "philosophy of manufacturing.” Dr. Gordon Brown of M. I. T. sees it as an "open ended issue," meaning a "big thing - one of the biggest in history - whose horizons are still expanding as we learn acre of its potentialities. 2 Automation has been sailed an intellectual revolution, a new system of thought, the mechanization of judgement, and machine control by nonhuman means. Still other definitions are in terms of electronic control devises, automatic assembly lines, the integration of these two, transfer machinery, and a rapid rate of industrialization. Each one of these definitions, although limited to a definite sphere, is correct. For purposes of analysis, however, automation can best be defined as any continuous and integrated operation of a production system that uses electronic or other equipment to regulate and coordinate the quantity and quality of production. These processes can be distilled into four fundamental principles: mechanization, continuous process, automatic control, and rationalization.3

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