designed to ferret out potential problems before they force a major breakdown in the production process. The radical differences in production philosophy at General Motors and Toyota showed up in the bottom-line figures for both companies. In a MIT study of the two plants, researchers found that at the Toyota facility, “It took 16 hours to build a car in 4.8 square feet of work space per vehicle per year, with .45 defects per car. At GM Framingham it took nearly thirty-one hours in 8.15 square feet with 1.3 defects.”24 Toyota was able to build a car quicker, in less space, with fewer defects, and with half the labor. In recent years, Japanese manufacturers have combined the new lean-management techniques with increasingly sophisticated computer and other information technologies to create the “factory of the future” automated production facilities with few workers, which more nearly resemble a laboratory than a factory. Social scientists Martin Kenney and Richard Florida talk of the new lean factories that are more cerebral than physical in appearance: “Under past forms of industrial production, including mass-production Fordism, much of work was physical…. The emergence of digitization increases the importance of abstract intelligence in production and thus requires that workers actively undertake what were previously thought of as intellectual activities. In this new environment, workers are no longer covered with grease and sweat, because the factory increasingly re- sembles a laboratory for experimentation and technical advance.”25 The operating assumptions of lean management, with their strong emphasis on “process” rather than “structure and function,” made Japanese manufacturers ideally suited to take advantage of the new computer-based information technologies. RE-ENGINEERING THE WORKPLACE Womack, Jones, and Roos predicted that the lean-production method of management developed by the Japanese would spread beyond the automotive industry and “change everything in almost every indus- try.”26 Their optimistic forecast is now becoming a reality. Borrowing from the Japanese model of lean production, American and European companies have begun to introduce their own changes in organiza- tional structure to accommodate the new computer technologies. Under the broad rubric of re-engineering, corporations are flattening


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