Combining case studies with accessible but rigorous production models and historical background, this provocative book challenges accepted views on Japanese production methods in the world car industry.
The book argues that the `lean and flexible' production model popularly associated with Toyota MC is a myth, but one which sheds light on cultural responses to the attendant stresses of globalization. To illustrate this, Dan Coffey provides individual studies of process flexibility, labour productivity and the re-organization of work in the global car industry. Wider evaluations of Japanese impacts on the global economy and a resurgent Western capitalism are then made, progressing the case for a fundamental re-assessment of the narratives informing popular accounts of Japan's manufacturing success. Beginning with the fictionalization of history and propagation of empirical counterfactuals and finishing with observations on the wider impact of the `lean and flexible' approach, the bold and controversial conclusion reacheld by the author is that what is at stake is our understanding of the form and meaning of `production fantasy'.
The Myth of Japanese Efficiency casts a familiar debate in an unfamiliar light. It will strongly appeal to management and business strategy academics, political economists and industrial sociologists interested in the debate on Fordist versus `post-Fordist' production methods/`lean and flexible' manufacture and Japanese post-war success in the world market for manufactured goods. Human resource management specialists interested in best production practice will also find much to interest them within this book.
Dan Coffey, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Leeds University Business School, UK
Contents: 1. Introducing the Myth of Japanese Efficiency 2. Wide Selection: A Myth Encountered 3. Production Malapropisms: The BMW-Rover Group Controversy 4. Lean Production: The Dog That Did Not Bark 5. Back to the Future: The Reorganization of Work at Toyota 6. Rivalrous Asymmetries and the Japanese Myth 7. Rethinking Lean Thinking: Substance and Counterfeit 8. The Totalizing Myth: Japanese Efficiency as a Cultural Fiction References Index