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Lean as ideology and practice : a comparative study of the impact of Lean production on working life in automotive manufacturing in the United Kingdom and Poland

Stewart, Paul and Mrozowicki, Adam and Danford, Andy and Murphy, Ken (2016) Lean as ideology and practice : a comparative study of the impact of Lean production on working life in automotive manufacturing in the United Kingdom and Poland. Competition and Change, 20 (3). pp. 1-19. ISSN 1024-5294

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Abstract

This article reports on research conducted at General Motors UK and Poland, BMW-UK and VW-Motor Poland. The development of a range of managerial practices at the workplace, often described as lean production techniques, is discussed. The focus is on the impact of the latter on employees’ quality of work-life. While advocates of lean, so-called leanistas, argue that the ‘right’ management cadre will allow the positive effects of lean to prevail, evidence confirming this assumption remains limited. In contrast to ‘lean ideology’, findings here highlight the deleterious effects of systems so defined on the quality of life at work and to workers’ health beyond employment.