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Raisonner sur les épingles, l'exemple de Adam Smith sur la division du travail

Abstract : In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith illustrates the importance of the division of labour with an example of a pin making enterprise. He compares an 18-step production process with an artifi cial benchmark. Measured productivity is 240 times that of the benchmark. This reasoning is negligent. Adam Smith could have found more credible, although less spectacular examples in the literature of his time. Diderot's Encyclopaedia twice described this production approach in France. One articl e is quite detailed. The benefits from the division of labour are the cost gains due to wage differences between the different steps. Furthermore, manufacturing was delocalised to rural areas where lower cost labourers worked to complement a farming income. Another influence is lot size. Large productivity gains are visible when several pins are worked on at the same time. The analysis of historical texts shows how other factors also encouraged the division of labour.
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Jean-Louis Peaucelle. Raisonner sur les épingles, l'exemple de Adam Smith sur la division du travail. Revue d'Economie Politique, Dalloz, 2005, pp.499-519. ⟨hal-01404601⟩



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