Manufacturing—Not So Much a Technology More a Way of Life

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/eb055228
Publication Date01 Feb 1973
Pages14-28
AuthorGraham Edwards,Jean Pierre Schmitt
SubjectHR & organizational behaviour
GRAHAM EDWARDS
Graham
Edwards
is
a lecturer at Manchester University and
head of a substantial
research
team which has examined the
cell system in each of its
stages
of development from a
technical concept to a
technical
and economic one through
its
socio-technical
and economic
phases.
He
has
piloted its
use in Britain at major
British
firms and with Dr I F K
El-Essawy
at UMIST
has designed
and implemented total
factory systems based on
cells
at
Ferranti,
Edinburgh,
Stibbe-Monk and Platt International, Bolton. Mr Edwards is
a former
visiting
professor at INSEAD, contributes to
production management
courses
at the
Business
Schools in
London, Manchester and Bradford and to production
courses
at
Cranfield,
ILO, Turin and Liverpool
Universities.
He is the author of a book entitled READINGS IN GROUP
TECHNOLOGY and
has
published many
research
papers all
emanating from
his
Manchester team.
JEAN PIERRE SCHMITT
Jean
Pierre
Schmitt, professor and head of the Production
Management programme at INSEAD, was trained
as
an
engineer
and held
managerial
positions before
graduating
at
INSEAD. He is a well-known consultant in
France
and his
Doctoral thesis is concerned with control. A major
research
interest is the relationships between production and
management control in the complex multi-product
company.
Introduction
Our objective, when reporting on a series of research
projects conducted between our two management centres,
UMIST and INSEAD, was firstly to comment upon our
European experiences against the background of the
changing world. Our second concern was to express, in
terms acceptable to us, that production management is at
the core of our interest and that, as researchers, we could
not accept the great technical predominance that has
characterized the teachings of those concerned with pro-
duction technology. As observers of the changes in the
social framework we are aware of the attention given to
production problems by sociologists, psychologists and
industrial anthropologists and, like interested technicians,
we follow and occasionally applaud, their discoveries.
Like
those with day-to-day production problems we try not to
be carried away with novelty and, as a result, one of our
major tasks has been to remain 'in touch' with those in
production departments throughout Europe, who have the
responsibility of earning the nation's living. It is, after all,
these people who are the concern of governments, unions
and managers.
It is not only that the role of automation in the future is
important but also that now, and in the immediate past, a
situation has been created which may prove impossible to
change in the short run. The Rhodesian and Northern
Ireland problems, the Vietnam war and a host of other
world issues are not problems which have suddenly
developed and can equally quickly be solved. They have
taken years and decades to smoulder and come to the
surface and it may be that our recent preoccupation with
technology and automation has built into production so
strong a belief that people are machines, that a period of
industrial strife awaits us, which may not be altogether
different from that concerned with major world conflicts.
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