Contested Views on Lean Production from the Social Sciences

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Detroit (2022)


The social sciences perspective on lean is somewhat scattered in its attention to lean production, and rather fragmented between praise and criticism. This paper reviews the positive aspects of early studies revealing how lean production works in Japan (Dore and Cole) and then review subsequent studies of how lean production was transplanted in the US and Europe (Cole and Liker). It then goes into critical approaches including flexible accumulation, labor process theory, and the productive model approach. It also includes the German alternative model of diversified quality production (DQP). This division points to the need to look at both the positive and negative elements of lean production, and the need for the social sciences to more systematically study this major aspect of the worldwide division of labor.


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