An Empirical Study Of Human Resource Management Strategies And Practices In Australian Just In Time Environments

7366 words - 29 pages

This study seeks to further examine the extent and emphasis of particular human resource management strategies in Australian JIT companies through an empirical analysis of survey data. The results indicate that the management of the human variable in Australian JIT environments can be characterised by a stronger emphasis on a number of factors, including, for example: change management; participative decision making; flexibility and multi-skilling; and open and effective communication processes. What was particularly striking from this analysis was the evidence gained not only of the added emphasis on these issues in the JIT companies, but of the potential for "adding value" through combining management strategies. It is evident that the companies identified as being more heavily involved in JIT practices appear to be more focused on particular human resource management strategies, and as a result see the management of the human variable as critical to the success of their operation. It could perhaps be further hypothesised as a result that there is a process of organisational learning going on in these companies, creating conditions enabling these organisations to more completely and effectively tap into and develop their human potential.IntroductionBackgroundDuring the 1970s it was becoming apparent that there had been major advances in productivity and quality in Japanese manufacturing. Basic assumptions underpinning the operations of Western manufacturing organisations were being challenged by apparently simple (and to some, simplistic) philosophies relating to operational, inventory and quality control issues. Long runs of one product line, large buffer stocks, acceptance of tolerable scrap levels based on statistical samples and the use of multiple suppliers in order to secure the lowest unit cost characterised the Western manufacturing mindset. In Japan, by contrast, these assumptions had long been regarded as excessively wasteful and in fact compounding, rather than solving, the problems they were intended to resolve. Japanese companies had dedicated considerable time and effort to the development of systems aimed at maximising customer service with minimum inventory and at high quality levels. The Toyota production system was one such example. Developed at Toyota after the Second World War, it provided the basis for what was to become known popularly as just-in-time (JIT). Up until this time the thrust of much of the analysis of Japanese production systems had focused on cultural differences and concluded that there was a particular Japanese "mindset" that facilitated their success.Schonberger (1982) championed the notion that these systems were based on a set of procedures and techniques that could be implemented independent of any particular cultural or environmental conditions. In fact it was Schonberger who provided the most enduring definition of the just-in-time manufacturing system:"The JIT idea is simple: Produce and deliver...

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