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date: 06 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This article outlines the key elements of organization and HRM associated with contemporary high-volume production, in particular the key arguments and characteristics of lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing and the associated high-performance work system model has been influential in the development of management practices throughout manufacturing sectors and beyond. However, they are primarily premised on labor efficiencies and incremental improvement. The article reviews the evidence on the implementation and outcomes of lean adoption. The second main section reviews alternatives to ‘lean’. The requirement for innovation and higher value added noted above has meant that a greater emphasis on creating and managing knowledge than that associated with lean manufacturing has become central. One insightful, and increasingly influential, way of conceiving of this challenge has been developed from the concept of ‘communities of practice’, i.e. groups of largely autonomous and self-organizing experts.

Keywords: lean manufacturing, high-performance work system, management practices, labor efficiencies, communities of practice, incremental improvement

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