The Transition from Fordism to Post Fordism

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  • Topic: Fordism, Manufacturing, Post-Fordism
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  • Published : May 28, 2008
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“With reference to a dualism of your choice (e.g., bureaucracy/post-bureaucracy, Fordism/post-Fordism, hard HRM/soft HRM), evaluate critically its validity as a tool for understanding the changing nature of work organisation”

Introduction
The definition of work is “ the application of effort or exertion to a purpose,” (Noon & Blyton 2002, p3) Though this does provide a reasonable definition a clearer one can be provided by Thomas (1999, xiv) who highlights three essential components to work:

1)Work produces or achieves something (it’s not an end in itself) 2)Work involves a degree of obligation or necessity (it’s a task set either by others or ourselves) 3) Work involves effort and persistence (it’s not wholly pleasurable, although there may be pleasurable elements to it) Therefore this definition helps to clearly define the tasks individuals are expected to complete in their everyday lives, for example cleaning and ironing, but in particular in this assignment the focus will be primarily on paid work because there is a large importance in this area due to it being important as a source of employment and also the amount of time that is devoted to it.

Williams (2007 p1) states “there are many visions of the future of work,” varying from seeing the world as positive and moving progressively and others regard it as moving in the wrong direction. In particular there will be an emphasis on the dichotomy of Fordism and Post-Fordism focusing on the emergence of both dualisms and how they have shaped and will change the nature of the future of work.

Main Body
In today’s society the ability to compete in a global market has existing implications for existing patterns of work, the distribution of services and the production of goods. Piore & Sabel (1984) have argued that the deterioration of a number of Western capitalist societies is a result of a largely redundant model of industrial development based on the mass production of standardised goods. This ‘Fordist system of mass production is based on Fredrick Taylor’s principles of ‘scientific management.’ Taylor was regarded as a systemiser. Nyland (1988) believes that the ‘systemisers’ were a diverse group of engineers, accountants and works managers who argued that U.S. firms had grown to a size where the internal functioning of the enterprise was becoming increasingly chaotic and wasteful, and so these systems had to be changed. Taylor’s belief was management should develop the most efficient use of labour by producing one right way of doing a particular job. Workers were encouraged to execute this process the right time every time and in return they would receive higher wages, an improved material lifestyle or punishment if compliance didn’t occur. In this idea, in consequence, the irrational and emotional dimension was removed from organisational life and it was replaced with rational, universally applicable structures which would achieve maximum effectiveness and minimal divergence (Fayol, 1916; Gulick & Urwick, 1937; Mooney & Riley, 1931). Piore & Sabel (1984, p236) argue “The extreme routinisation of work that Taylor implied presupposes the fixity of markets and the production process characteristic of mass production, meaning that such routine work represents how stable the market was for the production of goods at that particular time.

This system of ‘scientific management’ and rational approach to mass production was later developed on the assembly line by Henry Ford. Ford adopted the principles of Taylorism and at his car manufacturing plant in Michigan and used it to maximise output with the human worker conforming to a rationalised role of production in a factory geared to the mass production of standardised products (Williams, 2007). From this, Fordism was established, creating a benchmark and becoming extensively used in describing the processes of an assembly line through the combination of linear work sequencing and...
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