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ERIC Number: EJ745394
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Jun
Pages: 22
Abstractor: Author
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7732
It Cuts Both Ways: Workers, Management and the Construction of a "Community of Fate" on the Shop Floor in a Mexican Garment Factory
Videla, Nancy Plankey
Social Forces, v84 n4 p2099-2120 Jun 2006
Most studies of lean production are based on surveys of managers. This article examines the labor process under lean production at a high-end garment factory in Central Mexico through ethnographic research, consisting of nine months of work at the factory, and in-depth interviews with 25 managers and 26 workers. The author found that implementation of lean production is a complex organizational and social phenomenon. The author argues that besides a focus on quality, just-in-time production and flattened hierarchies, lean production is based on a management-sponsored "community of fate" ideology. In this case study, the "community of fate" ideology constructed by managers--with its discourse of loyalty and sacrifice and its buttressing corporate welfare programs--convinced workers to extend their physical, intellectual and emotional labor to the firm. What managers failed to fully understand was that in workers' eyes, the "community of fate" belief also tied the firm to the workers. When management reneged on this social pact, workers not only resisted management's efforts to regain control over the shop floor, but also actively used the team system to thwart the firm's economic viability. In the end, instead of controlling workers, lean production facilitated worker radicalization and mobilization.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Mexico