The World that Changed the Machine. An Essay about the Car History. Fourtheen preparatory texts


Boyer R., Freyssenet M., The World that Changed the Machine. An Essay about the Car History. Fourtheen preparatory texts, GERPISA, Paris 2006. Digital publication:, 2006. ISSN 1776-0941.

All these texts are downloadable. This presentation page is also printable. Please, go to the bottom of this page. Sorry, the texts are in French. Only the book could be translated.


This page presents the fourtheen texts preparatory to a next book The World that Changed the Machine. An Essay about the Car History

Why to publish these preparatory texts, were written in 1999? At first because each of them has an specific interest. Indeed they synthesize the works realized about the studied periods. They are also the informative and analytical background of our book The productive models. The conditions of profitability. The readers of this book will find in these texts the detailed historic data on which the analysis schema presented is based. The third reason is that the work in hand is not finished. It is indeed interrupted by ceaseless urgencies and besides it is prolonged by our own requirements. Indeed we would like to integrate the most recent researches and to make some quantitative tests of our explanations, when it is possible. We would also like to show how the notions we use were gradually elaborated questioning again the car industry history. Finally, we would wish to end by proposing a new representation of this history, that was everything except the succession of three ages according to the canonical story which is usually made it. In brief, there is still some work. But the stake is there worth. A date of completion being difficult to fix, it seemed so careful, in the meantime, to publish the preparatory texts. The final work will be less long, less illustrated, less informed than the preparatory texts, but they will be richer in reflections and conclusions, as we hope for it.

Useless to explain for a long time, specially to GERPISA’s members, the choice of the title. Indeed it is the exact inversion of the title of the book The Machine that Changed the World, edited by Woomack, Jones and Roos in 1990. These authors asserted, one remembers it, that the new productive model they had theorized from the supposed practices of the Japanese carmakers, the lean production, was going to change the world, as the fordian model would have changed the world at the beginning of the last century. The preparatory texts show the history was different. The productive models require to be viable specific internal and external conditions, at the origin of their diversity.

By clicking on the titles of texts, briefly presented below, one can reach the internet pages which detail their subject.

The first text, "The lean production in a free trade world, be the future?, exposes the terms of the scientific and public debate. It gives the reasons which leads to look for explanations different of those given in The Machine that Changed the World to understand the divergent results of firms and the different work conditions of the employees. A new visit of the motor history is proposed.

The second text, "The Ford production system and its premature crisis, 1908-1939. An Essay of explanation and some lessons”, shows that the conditions of possibility of Ford production system began to change, when it appeared triumphal.

The third text, " The productive models that the Ford production system did not remove. The craft production not to be found, 1895-1939" reminds that the wrongly “craft” qualified car manufacturers developed at the same time as the Ford company. They did not disappear in the United States because of Ford's competition, but following the crisis of 1929. Ford fell to the third position of the American builders. In Europe, the local carmakers were generally more profitable than Ford's subsidiaries.

The fourth text, "General Motors and Chrysler surpass Ford by inventing new profit strategies and new production systems, 1920-1939 ", explains why the “slonian” model, so called in homage to A. Sloan, General Motors CEO, became historically, industrially, economically and socially much more important than the fordian model. Chrysler, by adopting a strategy of conceptually innovative products, reached the second position during the interwar period.

The fifth text, ”The variety of the national growth modes of the post-war years and the profit strategies pursued by the car manufacturers, 1945-1974”, reminds that only some countries reached the mass consumption in the fifties. Mass comsunption could develop there because of a particular international context and thanks to a national profit / salary compromise allowing a continuous and moderately hierarchised growth of the households purchasing power. Somewhere else, the growth was dependent either on the free trade as in Great Britain, or on the rate of raw materials as in numerous countries of Latin America and Southeast Asia, or on the political planning as in the communist countries. The relevance of the profit strategies pursued by the car manufacturers was so uneven according to the national growth modes. All the firms were not able to adopt the so called “American” production way, supposed to allow all the people to buy a motorcar.

The sixth text, " Was the sloanien model the one best way during the “Trente Glorieuses”? ", questions the widely shared opinion, according to which the period was for the companies the fordian period par excellence, presupposing moreover that the sloanian model was only an extension of the fordian model. In fact, several profit strategies and several models existed during this period.

The seventh text, ”The crisis of the sloanian model in the United States and the emergence of two new models in Japan, 1967-1973 " , presents the crisis development of the sloanian model in the United States and in Europe, for different reasons, before the crisis of 1974, and the emergence of two new models in Japan, the toyotian model and the hondian model.

The eighth text, " Not one… but three productive models, 1974-1985 ", demonstrates that there was not only one successful productive model, but three after 1974. If two of these models had been born in Japan, the third was European, and was nothing else that the slonian model reorganized by Volkswagen to face a mature market and the contesting of the work organization. Besides, except Toyota and except Honda, whose models are opposite, the other Japanese car manufacturers encountered difficulties. So, after analysis, the notion of " Japanese model " loses any consistency.

The ninth text, " Nothing is definitive. Any productive model has limits, 1986-1992 ", shows the dynamics, the limits and the contradictions of the three profitable models, that appeared after the first world speculative bubble. At the same moment when The Machine that Changed the World presented Toyota as the symbolic firm of the " Japanese model " and the lean production as representative of the industrial future, this carmaker knew a serious work crisis, which was going to lead it to reform substantially its production system.

The tenth text, " The turn of the 90s. The late irresistible japanisation of the firms. The deregulatory offensive ", describes the crisis of Japan, while the reaganian policy in the United States and the thatcherian policy in Great Britain tried to impose the deregulation revolution. Chrysler was temporarily born again thanks the adoption of its initial " innovation and flexibility " strategy. It created new segments of market. General Motors and Ford imitated at once Chrysler's car models and became again profitable for one decade.

The eleventh text, " The theories wear out only if one uses it. A little forward-looking ", is a probation of the elaborated analysis schema. Some scenario are proposed to imagine the future of the car industry, between globalization and regionalization.

The twelfth text, " Ten lessons from a century of motor history, about the productive models ", suggests some theoretical, methodological and practical conclusions.

Follow two appendices. On one hand a glossary of the elaborated notions, [url= 668] " Glossary of the elaborated notions to analyze the profit strategies and to identify the productive models "[/url], and on the other hand an attempt of quantification of the performances of the car manufacturers concerning the six profit sources, between 1965 in 1994, by period of five years, " The profit strategies and the performances of the motor firms. A statistical analysis, 1965-1994 ".

Key words

Automobile, Automobile industry, car makers, growth mode, profit strategy, productive models, employment relationships, productive organisation, product policy, entreprise governance compromise, business history, theory of firm, labour, market, Fusion, acquisitions, alliances, separations of firms, internal growth, external growth, globalization, regionalization, internationalization, emerging countries, business history, firm theory, Fordism, fordian model, Taylorism, taylorian model,woollardian model, sloanian model, Toyotism, toyotian model, hondian model, Henry Ford, Alfred Sloan, F.W. Taylor, Taiïchi Ohno, mass production, lean production, commonalization, economies of scale, variety, cost reduction, innovation, flexibility, division of work, work uncertaint, work content, work organisation, work conditions, classification, qualification, employment, job contract, just-in-time, industrial relations, social conflicts, wage system, work crisis, social relationships, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, American Motors, British Leyland, Rover, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Jaguar, land Rover, Renault, Peugeot, Citroën, Simca, Panhard, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, NSU, DKW, DaimlerChrysler, Daf, Volvo, Saab, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Autobianchi, Maserati, Avtovaz, Skoda, Seat, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Suzuki, Isuzu, Daihatsu.

Concerned disciplines

Anthropology, Economics, Ergonomics, Management, Geography, History, History of Sciences and Technologies, EngineeringPolitical Science, Sociology.

Writing context

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

References, commentaries, critics

Curent relevance

See also

other websites where it is possible to download the fourteen texts

Last presentation page updating

2006.12.18, 2015.02.15

Date of the putting on line of the downloadable texts


Fichier attachéTaille
La production au plus juste dans un monde de libre echange, serait elle l avenir.pdf342.74 Ko
Le systeme de production Ford et sa crise precoce, 1908 1939. Un essai d interpretation et de possibles enseignements.doc791.5 Ko
Les modeles productifs que le systeme de production Ford n a pas fait disparaitre... ou l introuvable production artisanale, 1895 1939.pdf573.05 Ko
General Motors et Chrysler surpassent Ford... en inventant de nouvelles strategies de profit et de nouveaux systemes de production, 1920 1939.pdf524.45 Ko
La diversite des modes de croissance nationaux de l apres guerre et les strategies de profit poursuivies par les constructeurs automobiles, 1945-1974.pdf648.2 Ko
Le modele sloanien a t il ete le one best way des trente glorieuses.pdf791.35 Ko
La crise du modele sloanien aux Etats Unis et l affirmation de deux nouveaux modeles au Japon, 1967-1973.pdf599.26 Ko
Non pas un... mais trois modeles productifs, 1974 1985.pdf607.51 Ko
Rien n est definitif. Tout modele productif a des limites, 1986 1992.pdf510.04 Ko
Le tournant des annees 90. Feu l irresistible japonisation des firmes. L offensive libérale.doc919 Ko
Les theories ne s usent que si l on s en sert... Un peu de prospective.doc2.63 Mo
Dix enseignements d un siecle d histoire automobile, a propos des modeles productifs.pdf292.22 Ko
Glossaire des notions elaborees pour analyser les trajectoires des firmes et identifier les modeles productifs.pdf287.44 Ko
Strategies de profit et performances des firmes automobiles. Analyse statistique, 1965 1994.pdf5.27 Mo