By Helge Ramsdal, Egil J. Skorstad

What are we really conversing approximately after we speak of suppleness in organizational settings? Do versatile sorts of association result in various, tough and independent paintings or have they got a unfavourable impression on operating stipulations? those questions are faced by way of a gaggle of professional authors together with Stephen Ackroyd, Harriet Bradley, Jan Ch. Karlsson, Philippe Mosse and Michael Rose, who talk about the idea that of flexibleness in terms of employment practices, organizational constitution, cultural peculiarities and community preparations in France, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the united kingdom. whereas the query of office flexibility has been a lot debated in recent times, the most matters mentioned were the perform of non-standard different types of employment corresponding to part-time paintings. This booklet is distinct in facing flexibility with regards to organizational preparations, organizational tradition and community preparations, and in assessing the mixed results of other preparations by way of manpower, constitution, tradition and networks on flexibility.

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Consequently, flexibility is not necessarily a matter of deregulation and downgrading as much as ‘changing some of the existing regulations and structures in order to facilitate the evolvement of new collaborative arrangements and arenas’. In the final chapter, Egil J. Skorstad synthesises some of the arguments and empirical findings in the preceding chapters in relation to the analytical approaches presented in Chapter 2. This is, of course, not an easy task given the differences in theoretical and methodological approaches and the contextual complexity of the phenomenon studied.

The Ambiguity of Flexibility 23 is, an ability to match the relationship between customer demand, manufacturing capacity and manpower needed efficiently from a purely quantitative perspective. This quantitative adaptability, however, is not enough. (Post)modern companies also have to be able to adapt quickly in the functional sense of the concept, especially when demands change in a qualitative way. This is, for instance, the case when customers demand something new, either because of changing fashions or because technological innovations make it possible to raise product qualities to higher and more attractive levels.

Three such peculiarities are of special importance here: the practicing of company level unions, the system of recruiting and the system of pay and promotion (Skorstad 1994/2006). The first peculiarity means that important questions related to conditions of work are decided upon at the level of each individual company. The second means that the career of each individual employee is largely confined to the possibilities within the company where he or she is first employed. The last two mean that wages as well as advancement are closely related to individual performance.

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