Diversity at Kaizen Motors provides a look at a “Japanese transplant” automotive plant and allows for the examination of “diversity in the context of high performance work systems” (Lepadatu and Janoski. 2011, p. 3) in a mature lean production environment. The goal was to examine team performance and functioning in such a company, founded in a very homogenous country, deals with the much greater diversity of the United States while maintaining high productivity. While gender and race were shown to be positively integrated into the lean production environment, there were some tensions regarding age, primarily due to physical limitations caused by aging and long-term physical wear-and-tear cause by time on the job, the biggest obstacle to team functioning was the use of temporary workers.
American automotive manufacturers have lost significant market share in the last fifty years. “In 1960, the United States produced over half the automobiles in the world; by 2010, its share had fallen to less than a quarter” (Hodson and Sullivan, 2012, p. 200) . Hodson and Sullivan attribute this dramatic reduction to slow response to market charges and failure to be competitive in manufacturing technology and work practices saying, “Outdated organizational practices and tense worker-management relationship have provided an inadequate base from which to compete with Japanese automakers who utilize more efficient group production techniques” (Hodson and Sullivan, 2012, p. 200).
The automotive assembly line was developed by Henry Ford “to save time, energy, and money (that is, to be more efficient)” (Ritzer, 2013, p. 36). Japanese-style production built on that foundation. One difference is the Japanese “ju...
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...e to a sense of empowerment and to see themselves as more capable than they had prior to their employment at Kaizen. This type of personal growth would not be limited to one area of life but would spill over into the family life and role expectations. The change in role expectations and performance caused by the change of employment status resulted in disequilibrium and divorce in some cases. This could be anticipated in light of structural functionalism.
Hodson, Randy and Sullivan, Teresa A. (2012). The Social Organization of Work (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Lepadatu, Darina, and Janoski, Thomas. (2011). Diversity of Kaizen Motors: Gender, Race, Age, and Insecurity in a Japanese Auto Transplant. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Ritzer, George. (2013). The McDonadlization of Society (20th anniversary ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.