This article provides a description of the early attempts at applied social research and research driven policies and procedures used in the assessment of the employees and the consequent rewards and punishments meted out by the Ford Motor Company during the late Progressive Era. An additional aim of this paper is to show the relevance and signijkance of these attempts and to examine the extent to which early Ford research can inform our applied research today. In particular, this study examines the early data collection efforts by investigators of the Ford Motor Company Sociological Department. These took place in the early part of 1914 and aimed at gathering information concerning workers’ habits, family situations, financial states, home conditions, and social and economic behavior. These investigations were thorough and exhaustive. The outcome of Ford’s research resulted in the classijication of all company workers into four main categories used to decide who would or would not qualifl, for the Ford profit sharing plan. An equally important part of the mission of Ford’s investigators was to guide the workers to mod& their behavior to secure the profit sharingportion of the salary. This was an example of the paternal capitalistic ideology that characterized Ford Motor Company labor relations during this period. We conclude that the company emerges as one of the pioneers in the collection and utilization of applied research data, for the benefit of the company and betterment of the workers.


Original Citation: Loizides, Georgios Paris, and Subhash R. Sonnad. "Fordist Applied Research in the Era of the Five-Dollar Day." Journal of Applied Sociology/Sociological Practice 21, no. 2 (2004): 1-25.

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