20 NOVEMBER 1920, Page 17

INDUSTRIAL EFFICIENCY. * IT was the habit of the old doctors

when they made out a prescription to tack on to the tail of every drug they used a corrigens." To take a simple example, if there was Ipecacu- anha, let us say, there must be Bicarbonate of Soda to correct its indigestibility. So it is with books ; nearly all books on controversial subjects need to be taken with a " corrigens." But Professor Myers's is a piece of work so well-balanced as to provide its own correction. He has written an admirable book, and in Mind and 'Work' has given us something rather different from anything that has been written before. Best of all, perhaps, horn the reader's point of view, be has not treated his subject at devastating length.

Some writers who deal with the question of industrial efficiency are devotees of motion study and regard the mechanical speeding- up of work as the only means of attaining to a copious and efficient product. Other writers concern themselves only with the question of fatigue and the workers' reaction to various types of work. The third type—the political—cares only for a the relations of the employer and the employed, the questions of Trade Unions and the methods and rates of payment. A fourth type of specialist has lately arisen who concerns himself almost exclusively with the selection of the right type of employee, by means of mental tests of the Simon-Binet type. These experts are apt to see no aspect of the subject but their own. To the politician the proper adjustment of wages is the root of the matter, either by profit-sharing or by some refinement of com- bined piece-work and minimum wage scheme. The students of fatigue are sure that the proper adjustment of the mechanical circumstances of work, from seats and benches of the right height to hours of the right length, is going to cure all ills ; while the welfare worker pins his faith to pleasant occupation after work— the provision of facilities for private theatricals and lawn tennis. Professor Myers manages to see all these aspects of the life of the industrial worker, a life, up till now, we are all agreed, appallingly mismanaged by every one concerned, including the victim.

But there is one protest we wish to register. Professor Myers, like his leas broad-minded brethren and most contemporary thought, seems to the present writer to make one fundamental, if not obviously fatal, mistake. They all seem to regard the problem of industrial enterprise rather as one might regard the question of sharing out a given set of rations among a group of People with rather individual claims and desires. To them it seems more or less a question of balancing the Horlick's Malted Milk Tablets against so many pounds of Plum and Apple, of adjusting the proportionate shares of pork and beans and of bully- That does not seem to the present writer the true view of an industrial enterprise. This might be defined as a co-operation O f human creatures in the battle for existence, the object of employers and employed being to wrest a living from a common eneety—i.e., the world under the curse of Adam. The current way of thinking is, of course, another aspect of the mistake that was .;enerally made about the State, which is, or was, regarded as eon- si'tiuff of a gent pool of money, upon which various individuals and groups of individuals had various claims. There ought to be State Aid for Mothers ; there ought to be Old Age Pensions; there ought to be Provided Schools. We have now begun to pr: .1) Mind ere' Work By Ulm les S. Myers. London University of Loudon 4.6V,---(2) Magni thr A meriran Army. By 0. S Yoakum and L011,103: Sidemck and Jackson. [6s.]—(3) The Ways of • 3 phen Wsrd. Oviord : at tho University Press. tee. Gd.3

see the other side of the question : There ought not to be such high Rates ; there ought not to be a crushing Income Tax: man ought to have the spending of what he can cam. Professor Myers and his colleagues must never forget that all their excellent schemes for the betterment of the ridiculously uncomfortable lot of the industrial worker do in the end depend on Messrs. Stubbs and Bullock running their enterprise at a profit and not at a loss. In other respects, Professor Myers's book seems to us singularly well-balanced and informing. Particularly striking is his refreshing comprehension of the fact that it is no good to

tell the working man, when he sees his employer's wife rolled up

in furs at the back of her Rolls-Royce limousine, that if the price of these furs and that limousine were distributed it might, with good luck, add sixpence a week to his wages.

As an answer it appeals only to the rational part of a human being, and the sight of visible luxury appeals to a much more primitive part of that complex thing the mind, the subconscious. This

took in the soft furs and the shining polish of the car; and while the mind may have been convinced, the subconsciorimess has

not been answered at all. The insufficiency of the purely rational answer may be ridiculous, or even tragic, but it is a fact. To leave a question which the subconscious lies asked long unanswered is very seldom a wise proceeding. Somehow, probably under some disguised form, the psycho-analyst has proved to us, the subconscious will demand an answer.

Mental Tests in the American Army' is a book which, while it is not like Professor Myers's, intended for the practical employer of labour, will, for those who have studied the

question, prove a valuable appendix to Professor Myers's book. The mental tests' were most ingeniously designed and worked

out with great accuracy. If those who have had experience of the American Army in the Field do not quite agree that in practice the results of the elaborate testing were very millennial, they must remember that the opinion of the experts was by no means invariably acted upon. Where is the army in which nepotism and the more amiable forms of jobbery are not found 7 If the American Army was not actually as wonderful as the peruser of these tests might suppose, we must realize that, as far as tho theory of mental tests is concerned, an exceedingly valuable piece of work was nevertheless performed.

Whether their results were actually followed or not does not affect the validity of the tests themselves. They appear, as far as the reader can judge, to have vindicated themselves completely, and can now be applied in many spheres where they will have fewer rivals to fear.

One last medicament completes the prescription. It is Mr.

Stephen Ward's The 1Vays of Life', to which space unfortunately allows us to do little more than draw our readers' attention. We must just say, however, that here again is a work admirably short and very ably conceived. It is perhaps less of a finished product than Professor Myers's, but, if so, that is only because its aim is infinitely more ambitious. Mr. Ward does not take very much account of the more modern side of his study, he is not greatly concerned with the subconscious, he even makes one or two fairly elementary mistakes in his account of mental functions. For exaMple, he says it is by the eye that we origin- ally get our idea of the shape and spacial relations of things. This, of course, is an error, but his whole book comes as an admirable reminder to those who are absorbed in the newly discovered aspects of the mechanism of thought, of how much they have to learn from what we may be allowed to call the metaphysical students of ethics. We hope to return to Mr. Ward's theory of humour in another context.