Is computerised production transforming work roles, as recent debates about flexible specialisation and post-Fordist manufacturing suggest? This book focuses on the key case of metalworking batch production in Britain, Italy, Japan and the USA. Looking at technological, political and social developments from a comparative perspective, it suggests that comprehensive factory principles never fully replaced workshop organisation. Drawing on empirical case studies of flexible manufacturing systems, Bryn Jones offers a new distinction between the bureaucratic bias of Taylorism and the product standardisation approach of Fordism, and questions whether computerised production is transcending Fordism. Instead of the often predicted models of deskilled, centrally controlled work, or a decentralised craft renaissance, he shows a greater likelihood of national variations between factory and workshop principles continuing into the contemporary age of computerisation.
• Offers first-hand fieldwork data on comparative organisational differences in Britain, Italy, Japan and the USA • Gives equal attention to technological trends and political and social developments in the four countries studied • Provides a novel conceptual distinction between the managerial perspectives of Taylorism and Fordism
Part I. The Workshop Versus the Factory: 1. Introduction: explaining factory evolution; 2. Past production paradigms: the workshop, Taylorism and Fordism; 3. Productivity for prosperity: industrial renewal and Cold War politics; Part II. Technologies of Control: 4. Technological evolution and the pathology of batch production; 5. Numerical control, work organisation and societal institutions; Part III. Cybernation and flexibility: 6. The cybernated factory and the American dream; 7. An American deviant: FMS at Alpha; 8. Easy-peasy Japanesey: flexible automation in Japan; 9. Revolution from above: FMS in Britain; 10. The third Italy and technological dualism; 11. Conclusion: the struggle continues.