Four Types of Labor

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In our present day society, four general types of labor can be discerned. Each will be briefly discussed here.

Every job is different. Better said, the function of labor in organizations can be different. This depends on a variety of factor, such as the structure of the company. This structure, in turn, cannot be considered independent of the environment and the service or product provided. This interdependence can be illustrated by the four typical configurations of labor and organization.

1. Mass Production

Mass production entails the production of standard products for an anonymous market. The client has little influence on the product and the production process. This process is easily standardized, which means that the actions of the employees can also be laid down in regulations that proscribe their behavior in detail. Archetypes of jobs like this are production work in a factory or administrative organizations.

2. Modern Production

In modern production, the production is also for a large market, but here the client has a somewhat larger influence on the production process. One could call it ‘mass individualization’: within certain limits, the client can compose his/her own product. This means that the parts of the product are produced 'en masse', but that the actual assemblage of the finished product can be altered to fit the wish of the client. An example of this include car producers, which allow the clients to choose several features of their car, such as color, GPS, and so on.

3. Mass Services

Mass servicing means that a certain service is delivered on large scale. It is similar to mass production work, but there is usually a direct contact with the clients. In these organizations, the relationship with the client is strictly regulated (smile, be polite, and so on), because this also determines the quality of the service that is being rendered. A great example of a company that uses this type of labor function is McDonald’s.


4. Knowledge Intensive Services

Providing a service that is tailored to the needs of the client is the last configuration that is discussed here. In this case, the wishes of the individual client are very important. The quality of the service does not just depend on the relationship with the client, but mostly of the professional skills of the person that provides the service. Together with the client, the required service is defined and rendered. This obviously requires professionals that are able to work autonomously. Examples of this are consultant agencies, law firms or research institutes.

So, depending on the type of labor, a different kind of staff is required and a different kind of management.


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