Much is stated and written about the new world of work but how much do we know about the contemporary workplace? What influence have Japanese management techniques (Just-in-Time Production and Total Quality Management, for example) had on the way work is organized in `transplants', and more broadly in other firms and sectors? Have the systems and mechanisms of control changed radically in recent years, or are they much the same as they have always been?
Rick Delbridge sought an answer to these questions at first hand by working on the shopfloor in a Japanese consumer electronics transplant and a European automotive components supplier in order to witness and experience life on the line in contemporary manufacturing.
His book is in a long tradition of ethnographic research in industrial sociology and management/labour studies. Not only does he offer rich empirical data on the lived reality of work and a management practice that may share little in common with that found in the textbooks; he also raises a number of important issues about the best ways to understand the complex and changing nature of work.
The book will be essential reading for those wishing to understand the reality of the contemporary workplace, the diffusion of Japanese management practices, and the various influences brought to bear on the organization of work.