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Toyota falls foul of caste system: Industrial unrest linked to class antipathy

David Pollitt (David Pollitt)

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 13 October 2014




The paper aims to analyze the cross-cultural reasons underlying the extreme industrial unrest experienced during the first seven years of Toyota’s operations in India.


It draws on information obtained from 30 personal interviews, field notes, observations and Internet media sources.


It reports how Toyotism shares three common features with Brahminism – renunciation, performance and perfection – and how antipathy toward the manner in which these features were implemented in India caused significant resistance among the production workforce.

Practical implications

It suggests that management seeking to implement lean manufacturing in India should concentrate on minimizing the antipathy by production workers.

Social implications

It helps to show how employee relations, unrest and antagonism toward lean-manufacturing practices are closely related to cross-cultural issues prevalent in host countries.


It considers that the concept of Brahmanism in Indian employee relations is under-researched in comparison with other aspects of Indian culture, and antipathy toward the concept as a source of resistance to the implementation of lean systems needs to be better understood.



Pollitt, D. (2014), "Toyota falls foul of caste system: Industrial unrest linked to class antipathy", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 22 No. 7, pp. 5-7.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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