Title: Just-in-time workforce? Temporary workers as a structural aspect of lean production in the US auto industry

Authors: Darina Lepadatu; Thomas Janoski

Addresses: Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Kennesaw State University, 402 Bartowe Avenue, MD 2204, Kennesaw, Georgia 30144, USA ' Sociology Department, University of Kentucky, 1525 Patterson Office Tower, Lexington, Kentucky 40506, USA

Abstract: Temporary employment is estimated to be around 20% of the US auto industry. Based on extensive fieldwork at the big three Japanese factories (Toyota, Honda and Nissan) and auto suppliers, this paper documents the impact of temporary workers on the shop floor and their role in the context of lean production. This article fills an important gap in the existing research as one of the few empirical studies that examine the effects of temp work in the auto industry. We conclude that the just-in-time workforce as a human buffer for sick or injured team members and an addition when production volume goes up is a core structural aspect of lean production. The lean, loyal and long-term principles of mature lean production to protect permanent workers are based on the disloyal and short-term use of temporary workers.

Keywords: temporary workers; lean production; automotive industry; Japanese car factories; just-in-time workforce.

DOI: 10.1504/IJATM.2018.092189

International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, 2018 Vol.18 No.2, pp.160 - 177

Received: 19 Sep 2017
Accepted: 08 Jan 2018

Published online: 08 Jun 2018 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article