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When Was Post-Fordism? The Uneven Institution of New Work Practices in a Multinational

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Abstract:

This paper considers the lineage of flexible or post-Fordist work practices. It traces the introduction and diffusion of new work practices within a major multinational enterprise (MNE), Eaton Corporation. The case study illustrates an important discontinuity in the way in which, in the US, the company abandoned its older established production locations in order to introduce its new work practices and philosophy. However, it also illustrates some of the continuities apparent across continents within the corporation’s workplace restructuring from the 1960s through the 1980s. In the absence of significant union responses, the paper highlights the temporally and geographically uneven effects of a unified corporate strategy to introduce a new workplace philosophy and practices, highlighting the need for sensitivity to national and subnational contexts.

The word “restructuring” is cold and abstract and perhaps fails to convey the explosive change which has been taking place in Eaton. (Eaton Corporation 1983:2)

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8330.00236

Affiliations: School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK N.Phelps@geography.leeds.ac.uk

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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