Martin Probst's weblog

Division of Labour

Thursday, April 29, 2010, 13:59 — 1 comment Edit

Weird: everyone who has worked in small companies/startups and large companies knows that you spend a lot more time in large companies on overhead. That can be all sorts of things, like buying a piece of software, taking time off, etc.

The strange thing is that in theory, one would think that a large organisation is structured better and caters to many more people, thus has a better division of labour, and thus the overhead for individuals goes down.

But it’s exactly opposite. In a startup, you spend time on things that might not be your exact role, like administrating a web server when you are strictly speaking a developer. But that actually contributes to the company’s success. And even if you count that time as overhead, I still feel I had less overhead in smaller organisations.

I wonder if this is just for software companies and bureau type workers, as opposed to assembly line workers. Still seems like a weird failure; economies of scale would suggest the opposite effect.


Given the timing of this post and its title (Division of Labour), just about a week before the General Election in Britain, I thought this might be a political post. Ah well. It was still worth reading. ;-)