He used present day analysis to analyze these past events. The main setting of the book was the Golden Grove sugar estate and plantation on the island of Jamaica, in the Caribbean, where he spoke about the actions of the plantation manager, Simon Taylor and his employer and absentee owner, Challenge Archduke, based on the many letters communicated between them. During the late seventeenth century and early eighteenth century, Jamaica was the only British colony in the Caribbean making a great number of profits from their sugar plantations because on its size compared to the other British colonies.
His main focus in this book was the approach seed by owners and managers of the estate such as; the contemporary Human Resource Management strategies exercised because punishment was not considered “enough” to ensure production by the enslaved people. Emphasis on the ideological strategies was described, where of the enslaved created free spaces for themselves, role of women was discussed and changing of the sugar estate management.
Human Resource Management (HARM) is defined as “a strategy and coherent approach to the management of an organization’s most valued assets-the people working there who individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the business” 1 This method of management is considered contemporary with respect to the book because it was developed after the period of slavery, 1834.
However, from the research done by many historians, it was discovered that it was a method of management used during the time of slavery by managers and owners to ensure the success of the plantation, especially the Golden Grove sugar plantation and estate. The main resource of labor was the enslaved Africans who were taken from the west coast of Africa and shipped to the Caribbean islands where they were forced to work.
Human Resource Management (HARM) was discussed as being a dominant method Of managing the enslaved Africans to ensure the optimum amount of labor outputted by the enslaved and to gain the maximum amount of profit from production. According to Dry. John F. Campbell, he described Human Resource Management as to which, “analyzes how strategies can be implemented to placate labor” (6). Furthermore, based from the subjective or false judgments of the white estate owners, one would have found it rather surprising that this “tame” version of managing the enslaved people was considered and exercised.
This method of management was used because physical punishment and even death of the enslaved was not something that could be used to prompt the enslaved people to work harder. The HARM approach was more sophisticated and gave the managers the ability to deal with different aspects of the sugar plantation in a different way. The different methods of the HARM approach, such being the “matching model”, which he described as “a fully structured operation that had specific requirements of labor (13).
Then there was the “Harvard Framework”, which he described as “importance of the line managers, that is, those white employees on the grounds who made the day-to-day decisions with, and about labor’ (13). These two methods were the foundation that initially made the HARM approaches a success. Simon Taylor sought to exercise the HARM approaches so that he could have a better production of sugar and get the praise and trust from his good friend and employer, Challenge Archduke.
Some instances in which he did this were allowing the enslaved women to have separate accommodations from the enslaved men to lessen the possibility of there being arguments between the male and female. This helped augment production by eliminating these robbers. Differentiating between production and labor by handling them with different methods was one of the many important objectives of the HARM. Dry. John F. Campbell said, “Labor is a complex input. It can sometimes, be forced to work” (15) and also, “Productivity, however, unlike labor, cannot be forced” (15).
With respect to labor and finding ways to help improve the labor of the enslaved, ways to persuade and collaborate with the enslaved and provide better services for them was used to help labor and production. Before the implementation of these HARM approaches the enslaved people were insider “chattel”, not people. In order to improve production and labor the estate manager, Simon Taylor for example had to begin to recognize that these enslaved people were humans and should be treated that way.
By improving the working conditions of the enslaved, they established a more comfort able working environment therefore; level of labor they provided would have been to their best abilities. These new approaches of the HARM can be seen as the stepping stones for slavery, from going to “chattel slavery” to a more humbugging way of having the enslaved people work as people and not objects. It is astonishing that Dry. Campbell was able to provide the data and information necessary to prove that such a refined means of management was even used during the time of slavery.
Given that majority of people presently only know the “bad” and “inhumane” side of it. “Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave”, Frederick Douglass. During the time of slavery, having knowledge or being educated was associated with having power. For an enslaved person to have knowledge, he would be aware of the unfair treatment he was exposed to and would find ways in order to resist or rebel on the plantation. Given that the enslaved people had no knowledge of what they were doing or what they can do to fight for their rights, the estate managers, for example Simon Taylor used their ignorance to his advantage.
However, as time went on and enslaved people were being assigned to special jobs, example working in the estate house and being around the managers, they gradually began educating themselves. The enslaved people also had an advantage over the estate mangers, if treated badly they can cause commotions that will disrupt productivity. By bargaining with the plantation managers and owners the enslaved people show that they id not want to be completely free from slavery but that they wanted the working conditions they were exposed to, to change.
Another Ways of encouraging better management and production of the sugar plantations was the implementation of “jogging gangs”, where enslaved people could have been rented for their labor, another means of making profit and increasing productivity without having to actually purchase a slave. Additionally, the creating of “specialist” or “elite” jobs, this guaranteed that they could take full advantage of all their slaves to maximize productivity. They were able to locate multiple jobs to many enslaved people. However, if prompted, the estate managers could easily demote the enslaved back to working on the fields.
This HARM approach was highly complex given the standard knowledge people have towards slavery. In order for sugar management to be thriving the estate owners like Taylor had to make it his priority to work accordingly with the new HARM strategies. This would have been somewhat difficult or “unorthodox” because these new strategies were not what estate mangers initially learnt as ways of managing the enslaved. The orthodox order of rule as simply, if one did not do as told, they were to be punished unsympathetically, even if death was ordered. This changed shows how dynamic slavery was becoming based on new master and slave relationships.
The relationship between the slave master and enslaved was always distinguishable or nonexistent. The white owners had power, the black enslaved did not . But, with the HARM strategies, and the development of the elite slaves created a new relationship. Such being the “elite” groups were given the opportunity to interact with management and influence decisions for either their own benefit or the managers. Again, this shows the dynamics f the master-slave relationship gradually changing where the enslaved were given chances to communicate with their masters.
However, they had support the decisions of HARM always. HARM wanted to gain the trust of the enslaved. What all of this determines is that production of sugar was too important and if it meant creating a relationship with slaves and bettering their working conditions, so be it. Even though the estate managers wanted to change the dynamic oftener relationship with their enslaved workers, they simply couldn’t eradicate the obvious racism that existed in the plantations. The whites were to be seen always superior to the inferior black African enslaved workers.
Changing their social class within the entire plantation society and estate was not possible but changing their position of the hierarchical position of the jobs on the plantation was the next best thing that could have been made possible to please the enslaved people. Dividing the work also meant changing managerial methods of each job division. These are all the “ideological clarity” among the “elite” groups. “The elite wished to change the “chattel” type found in the British West Indian sugar colonies to more closely resemble that practiced in West Africa” (Campbell 6).
By being able to help the sugar management and secure some benefits for themselves, the elites therefore began gaining back some of the rights they deserved. This included better living and working conditions and decreasing the work load. The HARM strategies made the lives of the enslaved easier to an extent and they began moving away from “chattel slavery”. Another aspect of HARM was the role of both the enslaved women and white estate women. The enslaved women on the plantations were part of production but were also used for their natural reproduction capabilities.
As a ay of not having to increase expenditure on the purchase of new slaves from Africa, sugar management would wait till the children of the enslaved were of age to join their parents on the plantation. Women also had means Of bargaining with management because of this role which can affect productivity. In the book, Dry. Campbell stated that the women would use abortion and infanticide as ways to worry management and use it to their advantage to gain some benefits. Women provoked the enslaved men to start fights their captors to escape.
This shows the level of power the enslaved women had over the men. Therefore, if management can provide benefits and no reason for the women to complain, this keep them content, they will provide better labor and productivity. When the men see the woman happy, they themselves will be content and also produce better products on the plantation. For the case of the enslaved men gaining opportunities from the plantation, the women also gained openings to move away from the harsh treatment.
Whether it by sexual favors or sharing details on whether the enslaved were planning any revolts. The enslaved women disrupted the uniformity of the HARM approach by causing conflicts between the white managers for example in the book, William Cruickshank, a plantation overseer, took a liking to one of the enslaved women, Martial, where she took the “dominant’ role in the relationship. This shows that the dominant power the African women had over the men in Africa was now being exercised in the relationships between the white plantation overseers or managers and enslaved women.
These women had a lot of influence on the men and used it to bargain their labor; therefore it was intrusive to management as some wanted their amount of labor reduced decreasing the level of productivity. With respect to the role of the white women living on the estate, they did eve a say in the management of sugar plantation. Dry. Campbell provided information that there were in fact plantation owners who were women. The role of the white women was always stereotyped as not being much importance, “They were expected to fulfill this same limited role in colonial society’ (Campbell 92).
However, in this book, Dry. Campbell gives information to prove that women can in fact have managerial power towards the plantations. He discussed Mrs.. Archduke, mother of absentee owner, Challenge Archduke. Unlike her son, she did take residence on the Golden Grove estate and was aware of what was taking place on her son’s estate. She gave her input on decisions Simon Taylor had to make. She even made decisions that went against the wishes of her son; however, Taylor agreed to her reasoning. This shows that women of the estate did have the capability to make decisions that were perceived only men could make.
Her decisions were not irrational as it did benefit management and increase their benefits. She was aware of what was taking place on the plantation therefore; she did everything in her power to ensure the success of her son’s plantation. She was described to having a level of authority on the estate and began taking decisions into her own hands. Simon Taylor said, “There was always a distinct air of authority surrounding Mrs.. Archduke’s “interference” and her white female compatriots in the management of Golden Grove” (Campbell 99).
Furthermore, because of some changes made in the plantations based on HARM strategies and amelioration acts, the sugar management was experiencing great difficulties. For example, the expenses made for enslaved housing, clothes, food and more was beginning to become a disadvantage. Also, amelioration acts was proving to be another difficulty on ensuring optimum productivity. Biding by the strategies was putting management at a disadvantage. The sugar management was not receiving any benefits, as they would have likes. This eventually led to the downfall of the HARM and slavery.
HARM and amelioration strategies were enforced and it was a means of slowly making the lives Of the enslaved easier. However, proceeding towards slave trade abolishment, managing the sugar estate was becoming complicated. New aspects had to be looked at; example increasing enslaved mortality rates which hampered productivity. As a result, the sugar management lost a lot of profit and after years of success became a failure. In conclusion, Dry. Campbell was thorough in this book. He provided information not many were aware of.