Specialization refers to the concentration of labour on doing a particular activity/job in which he/she has the greatest ability.

OR refers to the concentration of an individual of country in the production of a commodity in which the individual or country has the greatest ability.

4.2       Forms of specialization

  • Specialization by craft.

         This was the early form of specialization where some families concentrated on doing particular activities such as             hunting, pottery, fishing, farming etc and in turn exchanged with other families.

  • Specialization by process

         This is where people concentrate in different stages of production in the production process.

  • Regional specialization

         This is where regions concentrate on what they produce more efficiently and exchange with other regions.

  • International specialization

         This is where each country concentrates / produces what it can do best and exchange it with other countries.


Division of labour refers to the distribution of tasks to particular individuals in the production process that they can do best. For example, in the manufacture of garments/ textiles different workers are responsible for particular tasks.

Note: The division of labour may not necessarily be according to skill, ability or talent.

4.4       Advantages of specialization and division of labour

  • Workers attain greater skills since each worker does what is best for him and thus becomes more skilled at that. This in turn increases efficiency in production.
  • Makes use of machinery in the production process possible. Machines are easily introduced to assist workers because the work is relatively specific / simple (and yet machines are made for specific purposes).
  • Less time is spent training each worker to do his job. Each worker is quickly trained to perform a single operation and therefore labour becomes more productive in a short period of time.
  • Duplication of tools and tasks is prevented. Individuals only have tools needed in a particular stage of production and this results into production of quality work.
  • Specialization leads to greater output. This is because workers specialize according to their ability. This in turn leads to high rate of economic growth.
  • Promotes mutual understanding among workers and hence the spirit of team work. This is due to high degree of interdependence among the tasks to complete the production process.
  • Leads to improvement in the quality of final output. This is due to use of modern specialized technology, hence better standards of living.
  • Reduces fatigue for labour due to carrying out a particular task repeatedly. The workers do not need to move around the factory from one job to another but instead remain in one place and operate one machine.
  • Regional and international specialization enables countries to fully exploit their natural resources and exchange. They concentrate on a given commodity and buy what they cannot produce with other countries.
  • Enables people to exploit their talents/skills in full. This is because division of labour is based on what one does best and this in turn increases the level of individual incomes.
  • Leads to increased invention and innovation in production. This is because each worker concentrates on one job/ task and gains experience, and becomes more productive.

4.5       Disadvantages of specialization and division of labour

  • Results into monotony of work and boredom. This is because the worker does the same work over and over and this leads to inefficiency which leads to absenteeism and increased risk of accidents.
  • Decline in craftsmanship due to employment of machinery. The workers become less innovative and creative, and this is because they turn into attendants of machines.
  • There is greater risk of unemployment since the workers are specialists who are less mobile occupationally. This occurs due to fall I demand for a particular skill or product produced by the worker in the market.
  • Leads to reduction in the quality of output due to collective responsibility in the production process. This is because no single worker is responsible for work done and thus no single worker is blamed for bad products.
  • Leads to discontinuity in production in case one of the key workers misses such as being sick or going on strike. This is because of a high degree of interdependence among workers.
  • Leads to over exploitation of natural resources such as over fishing, over mining etc and hence quick resource exhaustion. This is due to faster production/ large-scale production and which negatively affects the future generation who may not benefit from the resources.
  • Specialization leads to mass production which is at times difficult to market due to narrow market and therefore wastage of resources in that country.
  • Labour gets relatively lower wages since wages are paid to many workers instead of paying one worker who does all the work.
  • International specialization leads to over dependence of one country on other countries. This also discourages diversification of activities within a particular country.
  • There is no flexibility in production since machines are made for specific purposes.


Productivity of labour refers to the amount/quantity of output produced per unit of labour employed in a given period of time. (OR refers to the quantity of any commodity that a unit of labour can produce in a given period of time)

While/where as

Efficiency of labour refers to the measure of quantity and quality of output produced by a unit of labour employed in a particular period of time.

4.7       Factors that determine efficiency of labour (and productivity of                        labour)

  • Level of wages. High the level of wages motivates the workers to produce more quality and quantity of output hence more efficiency of labour while low level of wages discourages workers and therefore low efficiency of labour.
  • Level of education and training/level of skills of labour. Labour which highly educated and trained has the required skills to produce more quality and quantity output-hence more labour efficiency while labour which is less trained/ possessing less skills is less efficient.
  • Degree of specialization of labour. Labour that is highly specialized is in position to concentrate on a particular activity to realize better quantity and quality output and therefore more efficient while labour that is less specialized does not concentrate on a particular activity and hence less efficient.
  • Working conditions of labour (at the place of work). Favourable working conditions such as higher job security, more allowances to workers, availing the required tools in time among others encourage the workers to be more efficient while unfavourable working conditions such as absence of allowances to workers result into low efficiency of labour.
  • Availability and quality of co-operant factors. Readily available and quality co-operant factors of production to labour such as land and capital (modern capital) lead to more efficiency of labour while inadequate and poor quality co-operant factors limit labour efficiency.
  • Level of expertise/experience of labour. Highly experienced labour produces more quality and quantity output due to serving for a long period of time-hence more efficiency while less experienced labour is less efficient due to serving for a short period.
  • Physical/health conditions of labour. Good health conditions of labour result into more labour efficiency since the workers devote more time to do quality and quantity work while poor health conditions of labour such sickness reduces efficiency of labour due to absenteeism.
  • Level of technology employed. High level of technology encourages workers to produce more quality and quantity output—hence more efficient while low level of technology limits the quality and quantity of output by workers-hence less efficient.
  • Quality of management/supervision and organizational ability during production process. Good management and organization of the production process reduces laziness of workers because the managers monitor and guide the workers, and hence more labour efficiency. However poor management and organization at the work place leads to more laziness and excuses from workers-hence less labour efficiency.
  • Attitude of workers towards work. Positive attitude of workers towards work such as keeping time and reduced absenteeism, leads to more efficiency of labour. However negative attitude towards work such as workers not keeping time, and increased absenteeism, leads to less efficiency of labour.
  • Level of risks involved during production. Highly risky production process such involving more accidents or workers more exposed to ill health as they work results into less labour efficiency while less risky work encourages the workers to perform, hence more efficiency of labour.
  • Natural ability/talent of workers. Highly talented labour is in position to produce more quality and quantity output—hence more efficient while less talented labour is less efficient during production.
  • Availability of on-job training to workers. On-job training (in-service training) such as through seminars, workshops increases the skills possessed by labour (-leading to more innovations and inventions) and therefore it becomes more efficient while absence of on-job training limits the opportunities of labour to perform more efficiently.
  • Expectation of promotion at the place of work. Labour that expects promotion at the work place works more efficiently to please managers/supervisors while labour that does not expect any promotion at the work place is less motivated to perform-hence less efficient.
  • Political climate. Political stability of an area increases the confidence of workers making them more efficient while political instability/insecurity scares the workers and hence making them less efficient.

4.8       Guiding questions

  1. (a) Distinguish between productivity of labour and efficiency of labour (4mks)

         (b) Explain the factors which affect efficiency of labour in your country (16mks)

  1. (a) What is meant by the term ‘efficiency of labour’? (4mks)

         (b) Discuss the factors which increase efficiency of labour in an economy? (16mks)