A New Approach of Productive Models. The World That Changed the Machine


Boyer R., Freyssenet M., "A New Approach of Productive Models. The World That Changed the Machine", (Neue Prodktionsmodelle. Von der Welt, welche die Maschine veränderte) Industrielle Beziehungen, 2000/4, pp 385-412. German review, text in english. Digital publication: freyssenet.com, 2015, Ko. ISSN 7116-0941.

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Once again, and over a ten-year span, the worldwide automobile industrial environment has changed. At the start of 1990’s, American and European carmakers seemed to be forced rapidly to adopt the Japanese system of lean production that included
the active participation by workers and suppliers in achieving performance improvement objectives. And yet, a short decade later, this quasi-unanimous conviction of the supériorité of the new production model seems to have lost its zest. How can one account for the economic crisis in Japan, where firms such as Nissan, Mazda, and Mitsubishi were required at the end of the 1990s to seek out capitalistic alliances or become totally absorbed in order to avoid bankruptcy? How can one account for Toyota and Honda’s diminished expansion while simultaneously American and European firms are recovering to the point of leading the acquisitions-mergers-alliance dance throughout the world? These questions have been tackled by GERPISA, an international research network of sociologists and economists, pinpointing profound dependencies between production models and national institutions or, „regulations”.


1. A system that Failed to Prevent the Japanese Crisis

2. A Single Productive Model Has never Existed

3. Two essential Conditions for Profitability

4. Profit Strategies and productive Models
4.1. The « diversity and flexibility » strategy and the « Taylorian » and « Woollardian » models
4.2. The « volume » strategy and the Fordian » model
4.3. The « volume and diversity » strategy and the « Sloanian » model
4.4. The « quality » strategy, seeking a model for long-lasting profitability
4.5. The « permanent cost reduction at a constant volume » strategy and the « Toyotan » model
4.6. The « innovation and flexibility » strategy and the « Hondian » model

5. Again the world changes the machine: new income growth and distribution
modes, new confrontations between countries, and the recomposition of the world
5.1. The two world confrontations and their outcomes
5.2. Effects of the worldwide double confrontation on the automobile industry
5.3. Changes in Power relations Between Carmakers as welle as between actors within the firm
5.4. Just what is emerging ?
5.5. The two automobile markets

6. Will It Become Necessary to Invent a New profit Strategy ? Are There New Opportunities for « Reflexive Production » ?

Key words
Automobile industry, profit strategy, production model, employment relation, productive organisation, product-policy, gouvernante compromise, Fordism, Sloanism, Toyotism,

Concerned disciplines
Anthropology, Economics, Management, Political Science, Sociology.

Writing context

to personal questioning
to scientific reflection of research laboratory or network
to national and international scientific debate
to diffusion of scientific results
to implementation of scientific results

References, commentaries, critics

Current relevance

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