Power Relations and Lean
Production: The Foucault
Approach in Research
on Fiat and Melfi

Giordano Sivini

University of Calabria, Italy


To obtain a clear picture of the results of research on "Lean Production and Labour Force in the Automobile Industry" in relation to the Fiat factory at Melfi two preliminary points must be understood aright. The first concerns lean production as an "epoch-making model", and here we must make it clear from the outset that the focus here will not be on an enterprise model but rather a model of labour organisation implemented in manifold ways as it adapts to the various contexts. The principle lean production implements is that of just in time, departing from Fordism to redefine power relations both in the automobile factory itself and in relations with the suppliers associated with it, and indeed in the context which the industrial complex forms part of. The second point to clarify is that theoretical framework of research is the Foucault approach. This is not to say that the entire field of analysis was thus conceived from the outset. It was in fact the researchers who opted for this line in consideration of the fact that the arena was that of conflicting power relations. Now that the first stage of inquiry has been completed, the reasons behind reference to Foucault in themselves prompt some fact-finding work in – continual – progress.

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