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Inactive banana time : lean production and the degradation of work in the UK civil service

Carter, R. and Danford, Andrew and Howcroft, D and Richardson, R and Smith, A. and Taylor, Philip (2012) Inactive banana time : lean production and the degradation of work in the UK civil service. In: 30th International Labour Process Conference, 2012-03-27 - 2013-03-29.

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Lean production methods have long been associated with the manufacturing sector, in particular auto plants. Proponents claim that lean is a superior way of organising work that eliminates waste and inefficiency, whilst simultaneously continually improving quality and productivity (Womack et al., 1990). Although there is limited reference to workers, lean is typically located in the language of mutual gains, with promises of enhanced worker involvement and responsibility. Furthermore, Womack and Jones (2003) argue that lean can successfully be applied to the service sector. The adoption of lean is perceived as especially relevant given the current fiscal climate of public sector reform (Radnor and Boaden 2008). However, in doing so they largely ignore evidence from critics that lean results in constant pressure and subordination, which degrades the experience of work (Stewart et al. 2009)