What is the Division of Labor?

In other words, although it tends to be confused, the division of labour is the origin of the specialization of labour. This consists of dividing the tasks necessary for producing a good or service, which is distributed among a series of individuals, usually based on their strength, capacity, speciality or nature.

And also, over time, the division of labour allowed the increase in productivity in certain tasks through specialization and the growth of cultures.

Countless economists like Adam Smith and Karl Marx excavated their studies on the division of labour. This phenomenon considers one of the central pillars of economic development throughout history.

Origin of the Division of Labor

Throughout history, agrarian societies devoted themselves exclusively to agriculture. Faced with the arrival of needs such as trade, crafts or the creation of a military system that would agree to the safety of individuals, the division of labour arises.

For this, it is crucial to know what the production surplus meant. When the technical development of the tasks shaped an increase in productivity and, with it, an extra of production, the rest of the individuals could dedicate themselves to other tasks such as war or crafts, without the need to save themselves to agriculture to feed themselves.

Benefits of the Division of Labor

Benefits of the Division of Labor

Knowing what the division of labour allows us to maintain a more orderly and productive company; however, there are other advantages, such as:

  • It saves you time in development.
  • And also, Avoid work stress.
  • Increases production.
  • You save extra costs, avoiding external services to carry out an activity.
  • If You optimize the different tasks of the company.
  • And also, you manage to train people for different tasks.

Keep in mind that the most important thing is the company’s welfare, and the division of labour allows this to a reality. Likewise, you must bear in mind that if the work is not done on time (even applying the division of functions), various problems can arise.

According to Adam Smith and Karl Marx for the Division of Labor

The division of labour was the object of study for great economists throughout history. Due to the relevance of some, the most prominent were Adam Smith and Karl Marx.

Adam Smith

For Adam Smith, the division of work was one of the main causes for nations to upsurge their wealth. Giving to the Scottish economist and father of the standard school, the division of labour allowed great increases in productivity since the worker did not need to constantly change tools in the manufacturing process. The product that this only performed a task of the production process.

And also, Fort Smith allowed producers to save capital since a worker did not need all the tools to make a good or service, but only those he needed to carry out his task within the production process.

In this way, Smith considered that the worker was becoming increasingly specialized in his function through the division of labour. This allowed them were perfected over time by gaining experience in certain tasks. In turn, this phenomenon favoured the technical development of functions.

Karl Marx

On the other hand, although in line with Smith, Marx argued the possible problems of specialism since he was careful that, over time, the monotony of executing repetitive tasks ended up frustrating workers. Marx expected that the worker needed less knowledge to carry out his work in a scenario where tasks were increasingly repetitive.

As we can see, Marx’s vision was carefully related to Adam Smith’s. Both conceptions had a common kind in the effects on the individual, contradictory in this phenomenon’s social structure.

What are the Advantages and Difficulties of the Division of Labor?

Among the advantages of the division of labour should be noted:

  • Productivity increases.
  • Higher excellence of the product or service.
  • Lower production costs.
  • Ease of technological development.
  • And also, Improvement of the greatness of life of the worker.

On the other hand drawbacks of the division of labour that we could highlight are:

  • And also, the monotony of the worker’s life.
  • Frustration due to the continuous repetition of tasks.
  • Less technical knowledge.
  • Greater dependence on the employer.
  • And also, Destruction of the creative spirit.

Characteristics of the Division of Labor

The characteristics of the division of labour are as follows:

The difference in capacities: the tasks divide depending on the workers’ powers so that they will occupy the positions that best suit their capabilities.

Learning through experience: workers, by repeating the activities of their position, become specialists in that specific activity.

Time savings: time-saving since the worker is constantly performing the same task that time that would lose if they had to move from one study to another waste.

Origin and History of the Division of Labor

Origin and History of the Division of Labor

With the appearance of activities such as commerce or handicrafts,  the need for a working system that guaranteed the safety of workers became clear. It thus gives rise to the division of labour. How the technical development of the tasks brought with it an increase in the productivity of the industries, which translated into a production surplus.

The division of labour arose to respond to the social, geographical and technological circumstances of the time. Thanks to this division of labour, those not engaged in agriculture or livestock could continue to feed themselves. This occurs thanks to the production surplus that has already been mentioned, resulting from a much more competitive and productive industry.

What was the First Division of Labor?

The division of labour, as mentioned before, is a fundamental innate characteristic within human beings, present since prehistory, when small social groups had to divide tasks such as hunting, maintaining camps and surveillance—also called natural division of labour.

Over time, the evolution of society gave way to agricultural communities that existed on food. If production, giving way to one of the greatest engines of change: the surplus.

This is known as the first of the three social divisions of labour.


The division of labour is a financial concept that refers to the division of the different tasks that are part of the production process of a good or service. In this way, the production process divides into different stages, allowing workers to specialize in specific tasks that a certain group of people will carry out.

It can affirm that the division of labour is the origin of the specialization of work. Which consists of the fragmentation of the production process of a good or service into different tasks. And also, it will carry out by specific individuals, depending on the strength, ability or speciality of the workers. All this notably increases the productivity and performance of factories and companies, which translates into greater profits for them.

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