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Menzies, I.E. (1957). Measurement of Responsibility. A Study of Work, Payment, and Individual Capacity: By Elliot Jaques. (London: Tavistock Publications, 1956. Pp. xiii + 143. 15s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 38:287-288.

(1957). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 38:287-288

Measurement of Responsibility. A Study of Work, Payment, and Individual Capacity: By Elliot Jaques. (London: Tavistock Publications, 1956. Pp. xiii + 143. 15s.)

Review by:
I. E.P. Menzies

This book reports work done at the Glacier Metal Company, London. It was written for a wide audience and should prove stimulating to workers in several fields. Inevitably, this means that not all topics are fully discussed, and psycho-analysts, particularly those interested in applying psycho-analytic theory and developing analogous techniques to therapy for social problems, may regret that these topics are comparatively little mentioned. Special problems arose when the author left the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations for private practice as a 'social analyst', in working out means whereby his professional independence could be assured. His considerable success in doing so may be judged from his having achieved therapeutic access in the firm's payment and status problems, such as is rarely granted to consultants in British industry.

The focus of interest is on certain remarkable observations and their theoretical and practical implications. These centre round the 'time-span of discretion', the maximum time for which a worker must exercise discretion on his own account without review. When workers were asked to estimate a fair return for their own or a subordinate's job, the estimates were found to be the same, or nearly so, for all jobs at the same time-span, irrespective of content. This is an important and novel finding, and led to the conclusion that the weight of responsibility subjectively experienced in a job, the level of work, is related solely to its time-span.

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