TITLE

The Darker Side of Lean: An Insider's Perspective on the Realities of the Toyota Production System

AUTHOR(S)
Mehri, Darius
PUB. DATE
May 2006
SOURCE
Academy of Management Perspectives;May2006, Vol. 20 Issue 2, p21
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
The Toyota Production System (TPS) has been lauded as the pinnacle of flexible, just-in-time manufacturing and design and the founder of "lean work" systems, which claim to improve product quality and employee productivity. American automobile manufacturers readily adopted the "Toyota Way" and many of the management practices in service industries, such as Total Quality Management (TQM) are biased on its fundamental principles. The author of this paper, Darius Mehri, is an American-born computer simulation engineer who worked in a Toyota group company for three years, observing this system firsthand and conducting his own qualitative research on what he considers the true impact of lean work: the human cost. As a participant observer who was inculcated in Japanese social and workplace culture, Mehri takes an examination of TPS well beyond what many studies American and European scholars have been able to go. His assessment is guided by a distinction which is fundamental to understanding Japanese culture and business: tatemae (what you are supposed to feel or do) and honne (what you actually feel or do). Mehri believes that international enthusiasm for the Toyota Production System results from western observers' failure to discern the honne within the tatemae. He lifts the curtain of formality and messages from management at Toyota--the tatemae--that obscures the realities--the honne--of the Toyota Way: limited potential for creativity and innovation, narrow professional skills, worker isolation and harassment, dangerous conditions on the production line, accident cover-ups, excessive overtime, and poor quality of life for workers.
ACCESSION #
20591003

 

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