Work Organisation Inside Japanese Firms in South Wales: A Break from Taylorism?

  • Andy Danford
Part of the Critical Perspectives on Work and Organisations book series (CPWO)


A number of influential analyses of Japanese lean production have presented its mode of organisation as both a distinctive and laudable alternative to conventional Taylorised systems of mass commodity production. For example, Womack et al. (1990:101) argue that as well as removing all human and material waste from the manufacturing operation, the Japanese ‘model’ places the ‘dynamic work team’ at the heart of the lean factory. Shop-floor work in this highly stressed system somehow becomes ‘enriched’ and ‘de-Taylorised’ by incorporating new conceptual tasks and responsibilities. In a similar and in some respects more evangelical vein, Kenney and Florida (1993) attempt to locate the advantages of lean production in the shifting social relations between intellectual and manual labour which underlie their conceptualisation of Japanese technological and organisational efficiency. They place Japanese manufacturing practice within a framework of ‘innovation-mediated production’ characterised essentially by the integration and harnessing of the intelligence and knowledge of R&D staff, design engineers and shop-floor workers.


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© Andy Danford 1998

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  • Andy Danford

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