Originally found at The Economist.
In “THE REPAIR SHOP”, a British television series, carpenters, textile workers and mechanics mend family heirlooms that viewers have brought to their workshop. The fascination comes from watching them apply their craft to restore these keepsakes and the emotional appeal from the tears that follow when the owner is presented with the beautifully rendered result.
Perhaps the idea of craftsmanship is not simply nostalgic. In a new paper in the Academy of Management Annals, five academics examine the idea of crafts as a way of remaking the organisation of work. They define craft as “a humanist approach to work that prioritises human engagement over machine control”. Crafts require distinct skills, an all-round approach to work that involves the whole product, rather than individual parts, and an attitude that necessitates devotion to the job and a focus on the communal interest. The concept of craft emphasises the human touch and individual judgment.
Essentially, the crafts concept seems to run against the preponderant ethos of management studies which, as the academics note, have long prioritised efficiency and consistency. Frederick Winslow Taylor, a pioneer of management studies, operated with a stopwatch and perceived human workers as inefficient, and potentially disobedient, machines. Craft skills were portrayed as being primitive and traditionalist.
Continue reading the original article at The Economist.
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