chapter  Chapter 1
Introduction
WithMarcus Powell
Pages 12

A general consensus has developed amongst academics and policy makers that all countries face similar global challenges, including: the liberalization of markets, the formation of new trading agreements, rapid innovations in technology, particularly in relation to telecommunications and the importance of knowledge to a country’s competitive advantage. These challenges have an impact on the work environment and it is widely recognized that new industrial organizations and working practices are emerging in many countries. Common characteristics of these changes involve the transformation of mass production to customized production, a shortening of product life cycles, and the introduction of leaner, flatter structures and new flexible forms of work organization into enterprises. An interest has also developed in identifying the extent to which organizations introduce new practices into the workplace and a number of studies have started to bench-mark the degree to which organizations in different countries are utilizing the so called high performance working practices.