Won’t balancing jobs exclude specialisation and waste scarce talents?

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No. Balanced jobs are not designed to avoid specialisation. They are designed to avoid disparate empowerment.

The tasks each performs do not have to be balanced for empowerment or desirability every day, week, or even every month. There is ample leeway in organising work to accommodate technological and psychological considerations while eliminating large, persistent differences in empowerment and desirability. A participatory economy is one that reaps the productivity awards of a very high degree of specialisation but without the undesirable effects of permanent hierarchies.

However, it is true not everyone has the talent to become a brain surgeon, and there are social costs to training brain surgeons. Therefore, there is an efficiency loss whenever a skilled brain surgeon does something other than perform brain surgery. But most people have some socially useful talent whose development entails some social costs. And an efficient economy would identify and develop everyone’s most socially useful talent. If this were done, there would be an opportunity cost no matter who changed bed pans, and the efficiency loss from brain surgeons changing bed pans from time to time would be less than in today’s economies where the talents of many go undeveloped.

To give an example, if we think that nearly all doctors eighty years ago were men. This was not because women were not capable of becoming doctors, but because of structural barriers in a society with gender hierarchies. Today, the gender balance of doctors is more or less even. This implies that there are many more people in society who have the capability to perform specialised tasks but who do not have the same opportunities to do so, due to structural barriers in today’s society, which could be based on class, gender, race or other factors.

Countless studies confirm that participation increases worker productivity. If Balanced Jobs enhance effective participation as they are intended to do, whatever efficiency loss they entail should be weighed against the productivity gain they bring.

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