Post-Fordism and managerial strategies in France

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Managerial strategies must be coherent with the market environment and social context of the firm: the type of coherence between these three dimensions of employment relations — market, organisation, community — defines a model of the firm. Now that the death of Taylorist and Fordist (mass production) models has been proclaimed, who is (or are) the winner(s) among all the candidates analysed in the economic literature during the 1980s? According to Appelbaum and Batt (1994), five models have been proposed as ‘alternatives to the mass-production model of work organisation and industrial relations’: the American human resources model; the Swedish socio-technical model; the Japanese lean production model; the Italian flexible specialisation model; and the German diversified quality production model. Applebaum and Batt consider that each of these models represents a relatively coherent set of principles and institutions that organise the four dimensions of a firm’s labour policy: management methods (including participative devices), work organisation, human resource practices and industrial relations. Each model has specific comparative advantages, the nature of which depends (among other things) on the market environment of the firm. In reality these theoretical models hardly ever appear in a pure form, even in their country of origin.

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