Henry Ford, My Life and Work (1898)

In 1923, Henry Ford’s autobiography My Life and Work appeared in German translation. It became an immediate sensation, selling over 12,000 copies in the first year, and motivating many German visitors to the United States to inspect the Ford Motor Company. The book focuses on the technological and economic principles of the Ford Motor Company, as well as Ford’s larger social and political worldview. While Ford described the logistical principles of his company’s continuous flow production methods, he emphasized that his company’s production methods were embedded in larger economic principles such as high wages, low prices, and the reinvestment of profits. He also discussed his larger convictions, such as his aversion to charity (the unnecessity of which he sought to prove through a boys’ trade school and a hospital run on his production methods), and his goal of integrating industrial and agricultural production through small factories surrounded by small farms owned by farmers who worked in the factory as well as on their farm (an effort requiring only 48 days a year with the help of Ford’s tractors, Ford calculated).

The selected excerpts cover Ford’s rationale behind his company’s high wage system, the $5-Day, and the low prices of Ford’s Model T car.

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Related Subjects: Labor Relations: US UnionsManufacturers

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