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Designing Flexible Teamwork: Comparing German and Japanese Approaches

Frank Mueller (London Business School, London, UK)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 1 January 1992



This article is based on a research project on new employee‐relations practices in engine plants of European mass producers across four countries. Identifies two approaches towards a new organization of work: The German model relies on the production worker with apprenticeship, while the Honda model relies on continuous training‐on‐the‐job for production workers. One of the main results is that Honda′s production system may be a better model for British manufacturing companies – given the labour market situation – rather than the attempt to copy the German system of dual training. The German system seems to be built on a virtuous circle of company long‐termism, government and public support, and manufacturing success, which may be difficult to enter from outside. The Honda plant is in its early stages and it is not completely clear whether the principle can also work in a fully fledged capital‐intensive, high‐tech manufacturing plant, where high machine utilization is crucial.



Mueller, F. (1992), "Designing Flexible Teamwork: Comparing German and Japanese Approaches", Employee Relations, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 5-16.




Copyright © 1992, MCB UP Limited

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