Title: Swing plants and punishments: a study of a Ford closure decision

Authors: Dan Coffey, Carole Thornley

Addresses: Leeds University Business School, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK. ' Keele Management School, University of Keele, Keele, ST5 5BG, UK

Abstract: This paper explores a major plant closure event based on a technical assessment of scale, plant numbers and projected global demand, in a repeated bargaining game context. It reconciles two apparently competing viewpoints: a) that the closure followed from weak global demand conditions; b) that it was a response to workplace tensions. The case study event is the withdrawal of Ford from UK based car assembly, and the resulting closure of the car assembly section of its Dagenham site. The study casts fresh light both on the nuanced circumstances of a particular closure event, and the logic more generally of industrial organisation and plant flexibilities within assembly plant networks. Some points of interest are also noted for ongoing debates about |lean production|.

Keywords: plant closures; cost efficiency; flexibility; bargaining games; lean production; Ford; UK; United Kingdom; automotive assembly; automobile industry.

DOI: 10.1504/IJATM.2010.032627

International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, 2010 Vol.10 No.2/3, pp.252 - 269

Published online: 09 Apr 2010 *

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