129 Int'l Lab. Rev. 573 (1990)
Work Organisation and Local Labour Markets in an Era of Flexible Production

handle is hein.journals/intlr129 and id is 587 raw text is: International Labour Review, Vol. 129, 1990, No. 5

Work organisation and
local labour markets
in an era of flexible production
Michael STORPER and Allen J. SCOTT *
Introduction
n both the United States and Western Europe the old post-war patterns of
industrial development and labour relations seem to be giving way to a
new order. The central sectors of the production system are no longer
focused to the same degree on the mass production of consumer durables.
Instead, three very different groups of industries now account for a steadily
rising share of employment and output growth in all the major Western
economies: (a) high-technology manufacturing; (b) revitalised design-
intensive craft industries; and (c) financial and producer services, especially
those directed to the corporate sector.
In these industries flexible production methods constitute a basic
principle of organisation, in contrast to the mass production methods which
characterised the dominant sectors of the post-war period. Flexible
production methods comprise the variety of ways in which producers shift
promptly from one process and/or product to another, or adjust their output
upward and downward in the short run without strongly deleterious effects
on productivity.
The differences between flexible and mass production methods will be
defined in greater detail later in this article, but it can be stated provisionally
that flexibility may be attained within the firm through the use of general-
purpose equipment and machinery (often programmable) or craft labour
processes, and between firms through social divisions of labour. In the latter
case flexibility is achieved by fragmentation of the production process into
multiple units, often in separate firms, thus facilitating rapid change in the
combinations of vertical and horizontal linkage between the units, and
permitting rapid shifts between products and different output levels. Our
overall objective in this article is to identify the principal forms of work
organisation that are emerging in the context of this changing structure of
production.
* University of California, Los Angeles.

Copyright 0 International Labour Organisation 1990

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