flexible specialization

flexible specialization

a form of industrial organization in which firms specialize in certain products but are able to change at short notice to producing different ones. A notable feature is that such flexibility can make it viable to produce small batches of each product. A prerequisite is the use of advanced flexible technology operated by employees with a broad range of skills who are able to surmount traditional job boundaries. Research by sociologists, however, suggests that, in the UK at least, flexible technology is not being fully exploited and that managers are often reluctant to create multi-skilled workforces. See LABOUR FLEXIBILITY.
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The post-1970s period was marked by flexible specialization, which launched a new form of management within capitalist companies that was based on the flexibility of labor processes and inspired by the techniques developed in Japan from the late 1940s.
In broad terms, the conceptual point of departure for the analysis is provided by interpretations of industrialization processes as a contest between alternative forms of industrial organization, the polar extremes of which are represented by the standardized mass production model organized by giant firms and a differentiated flexible specialization model organized by networks of small firms (Piore and Sabel 1984).
The papers have been organized into sections examining Fordism, modes of production originating in the Japanese automobile industry, flexible specialization, and lean production, with a final paper examining the emerging debate over "McDonaldization" of production systems.
The talents of women, the skills of men: Flexible specialization and women.
Flexible specialization allowed them to meet consumer's desires for new styles, in contrast with mass producers who had to generate demand.
Building on the legacies of Polanyi, Shonfeld, Chandler, and Williamson, this volume engages these questions via an array of approaches ranging from comparative political institutionalism and flexible specialization to institutional economics and the regulation school.
Unfortunately, Cottereau accepts uncritically the conventional accounts of the organizational foundations of British dominance in cotton textiles as reflecting top-down capitalist control over a deskilled labor force, thus ignoring the tenuous relation of mass production and flexible specialization in that industry's rise and subsequent fall.
The chapter by Coriat offers a description of the flexible specialization form of manufacturing organization.
After a review of the debate about the Third Italy, Kumar discusses the important connection between flexible specialization and post-fordism.
253), flexible specialization in the large-firm industrial sector remains impossible.
But the "knowledge" era of flexible specialization that dawned in the '90s is a world apart, argues Henton, from the "industrial" era of mass production, focused on low cost, standardization and control, that reigned for many decades.
In her analysis of the application of post-Fordist principles of flexible specialization or lean production to an industry that previously relied on cheap labour supplied by unskilled, usually female workers, Kopinak is able to illustrate the key developments that mark the transformation from the old to the new maquilas, or from the old "assembler and manufacturers" to the new "flexible producers.

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