chapter  5
Post-Fordist Work Organization and Daily Life from a Gender Perspective: The Case of FIAT-SATA in Melfi
ByFULVIA D’ALOISIO
Pages 16

The opening of the integrated FIAT factory in Melfi (Basilicata) in 1994 represented a profound transformation of the Italian automobile industry, with the introduction of highly innovative approaches to production and work. The factory represented the first Italian experimentation of the socalled Japanese model introduced by the Toyota Motor Company of Japan, based on Taichi Ohno’s project. During the mid-1990s, Fiat experienced a deep corporate crisis, with a significant drop in sales both on the internal and international markets, in large part due precisely to Japanese competition. Two pillars of the new Japanese model, applied in Melfi’s newly constructed factory, were explicitly aimed at overcoming the Fordist production model. First, a “just in time” production strategy that inverted the production cycle, putting on the market only the automobiles for which there was already a demand, and thus eliminating stocks and reducing the costs of production. The second pillar was the so-called “total quality model”, which rested on greater expertise and awareness of the workers, and aimed to enable corrective responses to defects at the point of production and on the assembly line. This new model also foresaw improved technology, with increased automation of the productive process (Ohno 1993). More generally, however, the new integrated factory (the Italian translation of the Japanese model: Revelli 1989; Cerruti and Rieser 1991; Bonazzi 1993), was seen as a factory able to launch faster production with less bureaucracy and enhanced quality control. In sum, it was seen as a leaner form of production that benefited from decreased interventions by mid-level professionals, a more agile management structure and greater participation of workers in the decisional processes, leading experts to describe the latter through the metaphor of the “crystal tube” (Bonazzi 1993).