Automotive Production Systems and Standardisation: From Ford to the Case of Mercedes-Benz

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In January 2000, Mercedes-Benz started to implement the Mercedes-Benz Prod- tion System (MPS) throughout its world-wide passenger car plants. This event is exemplary of a trend within the automotive industry: the creation and introduction of company-specific standardised production systems. It gradually emerged with the introduction of the Chrysler Operating System (COS) in the mid-1990s and represents a distinct step in the process towards implementing the universal pr- ciples of lean thinking as propagated by the MIT-study. For the academic field of industrial sociology and labour policy, the emergence of this trend seems to mark a new stage in the evolution of the debate about production systems in the auto- tive industry (Jurgens 2002:2), particularly as it seems to undermine the stand of the critics of the one-best way model (Boyer and Freyssenet 1995). The introduction of company-level standardised production systems marks the starting point of the present study. At the core of it is a case study about the M- cedes Benz Production System (MPS).