This paper utilizes complexity theory to analyze the implications of systemic changes that have occurred over the last 30 years in the automotive industry. We argue by dint of complexity analysis that the networked automotive production system characterized by just in time and lean production creates states far from equilibrium in individual parts manufacturers and assembler plants. Positive feedback creates system disturbances and adverse health and safety issues in the local plant environments. In addition, we examine four mechanisms that serve as negative feedback loops to absorb stresses in local plant environments and rectify health and safety related issues. This paper draws on thirty interviews with health and safety representatives at automotive manufacturing and assembly plants.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Complexity Theory, Labour, Organizations, Positive and Negative Feedback
Journal Canadian Journal of Sociology
Citation
Spencer, D, & Carlan, N. (Niki). (2008). The complexities of the automotive industry: Positive and negative feedbacks in production systems. Canadian Journal of Sociology, 33(2), 265–290.