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Title: Manufacturing empowerment? 'Employee involvement' in the labour process after Fordism
Authors: Vidal, Matt
Keywords: Organization of production
Political economy
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: © The Author. Published by Oxford University Press and the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics
Citation: VIDAL, M., 2007. Manufacturing empowerment? 'Employee involvement' in the labour process after Fordism. Socio-Economic Review, 5(2), pp. 197-232.
Abstract: Advocates of lean production argue that a work system is truly lean only if a given bundle of practices, including worker empowerment, is implemented in the proper configuration. In contrast, my interviews and observations in six US manufacturing plants demonstrate that substantive empowerment is not a necessary condition for achieving a lean manufacturing system that yields considerable performance improvement. While many configurations I observe appear to be 'lean enough' for satisficing managers, one commonality among the cases observed here is that worker empowerment is limited in depth and breadth. Employee involvement may be limited in depth because substantive empowerment requires a change in organizational routine and authority structure not necessary to achieve the largely technical goals of management. Even when an employer embarks on major technical and social change, pushing beyond lean enough toward world-class organization, substantive empowerment is limited in extent due to the demands of standardization and managerial prerogative, as well as resistance and reticence among workers. © 2007 Oxford University Press.
Description: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Socio-Economic Review following peer review. The version of record VIDAL, M., 2007. Manufacturing empowerment? 'Employee involvement' in the labour process after Fordism. Socio-Economic Review, 5(2), pp. 197-232. is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwl005
Sponsor: The research for this paper was made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for the Advanced Manufacturing Project (AMP) research consortium.
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1093/ser/mwl005
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/27609
Publisher Link: https://doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwl005
ISSN: 1475-1461
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Loughborough University London)

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