Görkem Akgöz

Wednesday, 16 January 2019, 5.00 pm - 6.30 pm |
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

German 'Rationalisierung' in 1930s Turkish Shop Floors: Experts, Exiles and Textiles

Görkem Akgöz
(re:work Fellow of the Gerda Henkel Foundation 2018/19)

Chair: Sezai Ozan Zeybek
(EUME Fellow 2018-20)

Much of the increased attention to the development of scientific management in different national contexts has been concerned with the flow and reception of American management ideas. The arrival of scientific management to Turkish state factories is argued to have followed a similar trajectory after World War II.  In fact, there was an earlier effort by the Turkish state to solve the crisis of productivity of state factories through rationalizing production and central planning. Using the opportunity created by the political developments in Germany in 1933, the Turkish state relied on German experts to open the newly emerging Turkish industrial world to rationality and scientific management. In this study, I focus on reports written by German experts who visited state-owned textile and shoe factories in Turkey between 1934 and 1939. Besides presenting an insider’s perspective on the little known dynamics of Turkish shop floors, these reports illustrate what happens to German ‘Rationalisierung’ when it is transferred to a context of late industrialization. The story of the German experts on the Turkish shop floors is a story of the cross-cultural linkages and flows of people, ideas and practices of industrial management in the context of national industrial development and transnational political crises.

Görkem Akgöz is a post-doc fellow at the IGK Work and Human Life Cycle in Global History (re:work). After completing her post-graduate studies at SUNY Binghamton and her doctorate at the University of Amsterdam, Görkem Akgöz taught sociology and history at the Department of Sociology at Hacettepe University in Ankara until February 2017. She is the founder and convenor of the Factory History Working Group as part of the European Labor History Network since October 2013. She is also a co-chair of the Labour Network of the European Social Science History Conference. Her research on factory-level analysis as a methodological perspective has been supported by the British Academy, Central European University and re:work. Currently, she is funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation to conduct research on the female body on the shop floors in Turkey between 1946 and 1960.

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