THE ERA OF THE ADMINISTRATOR 1. Growth of industrial establishments.—Mr. S. F. Bowser of Indiana started life hauling ice, conceived the idea of the self-measuring pump for distributing oil and gasoline, and from a room in a cow-shed de veloped a factory occupying twelve acres of floor space. His first machine was an improvised lathe operated from a belt driven by turning a wagon wheel. Twice his business has been completely wiped out by fire, but he has lived to see his employes number 1,600 and his sales amount to over $4,000,000 a year.
We have in this illustration American business life epitomized. The man, the growth of the business and‘ the complex problems which must have been in volved, suggest the various elements which enter into the administrative activities of business life.
Industrial enterprise and the growth of business are world wide. The Willys-Overland Company of To ledo, Ohio, has so increased the use of electricity in its manufacturing processes that it now requires as much of it as a city of 250,000 inhabitants would for ordi nary household purposes. The Ford Automobile Company uses a million cubic feet of gas a day— enough to supply a city of 100,000 people. The Cad bury Chocolate Works of Birmingham, England, have grown from a small industrial community composed of 300 persons in 1880, to the present urban propor tions of nearly 7,000 employes. The Krupp Works at Essen, Germany, cover an area of 1,000 acres and employ over 35,000 persons.
2. Private and public administration.—In the use of equipment, power and material and in the number of people employed, many of the world's industrial es tablishments assume the proportions of city or state governments. From the viewpoint of size and the number of workers, the management of many modern factories involves administrative questions which a few years ago would have seemed applicable only to military or civil organization. Administrition in volves the velocity and the continuity of movements as well as their magnitude. When we take into con sideration the intensity of activity in the different fields, the administrative problems which confront our municipal, state and military organizations pale beside those of industrial plants.
A department store turns over millions in stock every three . months. An automobile factory makes
a machine every sixty seconds. A printing press folds 1,500 papers a minute, year in, year out. Again, the success of business administration must be judged by the standard, Does it pay in dollars and r cents? Periods of accountability are sure and fre quent. In this respect there is but slight similarity between the administration of an industrial unit which must draw its strength from within, and that of a civic or military unit which draws its resources from the pockets of an outside community or from the pil laged fields of the adversary. The mayor of a city appeals to his constituents once in one or two or more years ; the military leader may never be brought to account for his methods ; but a business administrator must account regularly for the profits of his concern.
Public and private administration deal with simi lar problems, and are guided by kindred principles of organization and operation, but the spur of compe tition and the desire for profit develop a far higher efficiency in the private field.
3. Need of sound business methods not always realized.—The industrial unit should be adminis tered by a policy which is constructive, definite and responsible. It is reported that one large automobile concern decided to distribute $10,000,000 surplus after one night's reflection on the part of the chief executive. The story is typical of the rapidity with which decisions are reached by men trained thru expe rience in the difficult task of administration. Such men sometimes believe that money can be made solely by energy and determination. They are not given to analysis and fail to realize how their own powers have grown as a result of the self-training they have given themselves, and are therefore indifferent to plans for scientific methods of administration. In the United States, business men have grown up in a young and loose industrial organization. There have been few great interests which could not be temporized with. There has always been a large margin of profit, and problems of external or internal policy or old abuses were seldom so pressing that it was not easier to take chances than to take pains.