The Marriage of Autonomy and Integration: Empirical Evidence from the Assembly Line

24 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2012

See all articles by Heike Nolte

Heike Nolte

University of Applied Sciences Emden-Leer

Date Written: January 17, 2012

Abstract

Today we have a trove of research about knowledge-based firms that derive a competitive advantage from the knowledge and problem-solving competences of their personnel. The assumption is that personnel-based assets become more important in conjunction with the firm's differentiation strategy. In order to profit from these assets, firms need to increase the autonomy of their personnel. But does this work in mass production, where firms mainly compete by price, and where products and thus work processes are highly standardized in order to guarantee a defined quality? This article presents a management model supported by a theoretical foundation and empirical evidence which overcomes the contradiction between standardization and flexibility. In this model, autonomy mandates integration and vice versa. Empirical evidence draws on a longitudinal study of assembly lines at a large volume producer in Germany.

Note: Downloadable document is in German.

Suggested Citation

Nolte, Heike, The Marriage of Autonomy and Integration: Empirical Evidence from the Assembly Line (January 17, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1986856 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1986856

Heike Nolte (Contact Author)

University of Applied Sciences Emden-Leer ( email )

Constantiaplatz 4
Emden, 26723
Germany

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