Contested Views of Lean Production from the Social Sciences Perspective

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2021)


The social sciences perspective on lean production is much less unified that the previous two areas of management and industrial engineering. Some studies of the impact of lean production on the workforce covers with positive aspects, such as teamwork, job rotation, job enrichment and job satisfaction. Others study the negative aspects, such as work intensification, long and unannounced overtime, and the extensive use of temporary workers. Yet another group studies the diffusion of lean production, and there are alternative models like sociotechnical theory and diversified quality production. As a result, the social science perspective focuses on six different approaches to lean: (1) Sociological studies of lean production in automobile and electronics plants; (2) Sociotechnical theory as a social psychological approach to lean and teamwork; (3) The diffusion of lean production throughout the world; (4) Critical social science and flexible accumulation; (5) The wider productive models approach; and (6) Diversified quality production. The social sciences are much more divided about the relative benefits and costs of lean production. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the three more positive or descriptive views, and the three critical or alternative approaches.


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