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5 Summary Manufacturing has already entered the early stages of rev- olutionary change caused by the convergence of three powerful forces: The rapid spread of manufacturing capabilities worldwide has created intense competition on a global scale. The emergence of advanced manufacturing technologies is dramatically changing both the products and processes of modern manufacturing. There is growing evidence that changes in traditional man- agement and labor practices, organizational structures, and deci- sion-making criteria are needed to improve the effectiveness of manufacturing operations, provide new sources of competitive- ness, and introduce new strategic opportunities. The effects of these forces are already being felt by the U.S. manufacturing community. Domestic markets that were once se- cure have been challenged by a growing number of foreign competi- tors producing high-quality goods at low prices. New technologies are helping U.S. manufacturers compete, but many technical and social barriers remain before advanced technologies have a major, widespread impact on manufacturing operations. Unfortunately, foreign competitors may well have overcome some of these barriers first, using new technologies to increase their competitiveness. As these points indicate, the three trends now affecting man 71

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72 ufacturing are closely interrelated. Increaser] competition has demonstrated the need for U.S. manufacturers to reexamine tra- ditional human resource practices and their use of new product and process technologies. Corrective measures, however, cannot focus exclusively on either area, since technology will not be effec- tive without changes in human resource practices, and the benefits from those changes are limited without the productive thrust oh fered by new technologies. Meanwhile, the competition intensifies, current production must be maintained, and the resources avail- able to make the required changes always seem inadequate. All of this poses a difficult dilemma for manufacturers who have depended on stability to maintain competitive production. Many manufacturers recognize the need to adapt, but do not know what changes are necessary or how to implement them. More than anything else, the key problem is that the forces affecting manufacturing require that managers think and act differently to bring about change in a systems context and that workers accept new roles and new responsibilities. The major roadblocks to more competitive U.S. manufactur- ing are in the attitudes, practices, decision-making criteria, and relationships of both managers and workers. Chapter 3 described the kinds of practices that are likely to be required for future man- ufacturing competitiveness. That vision means that hierarchical, adversarial management structures will handicap attempts to im- prove competitiveness. Employees at all levels of the organization will need to be viewed as a resource, and the organization will need to be structured so that everyone will have the opportunity and responsibility to make the maximum contribution. Further- more, the importance of the manufacturing function in the total corporate context will need to be recognized. Functional integra- tion based on a clear understanding of the manufacturing systems concept will be a major key to competitive success. This way of thinking about manufacturing is foreign to most managers, work- ers, and educators in this country, and it may be overly optimistic to expect such a dramatic shift in attitudes and culture. Ingrained attitudes will be Biscuit to change and may require a generational shift. This report has tried to provide some direction, not a solu

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73 tion. Circumstances vary too much to try to prescribe specific actions, but the direction for change should be clear. The use of new advanced manufacturing technologies is insufficient. The key is to focus on evaluating traditional managerial practices, rela- tionships, decision-making criteria, and organizational structures to determine specific strengths in responding to competitive pres- sures. The renewed organization will be in a better position to im- plement new technologies and further strengthen competitiveness. For some companies, however, attempts to implement new tech- nologies will force labor and management changes. Managers will need to realize that implementation of advanced manufacturing technologies to automate existing processes will yield suboptimal results. Efforts to optimize the technologies will demand creative thinking to take advantage of the opportunity to redesign many processes, simplify many designs, and change the flow of work on the factory floor. This creative thinking and the necessary cul- tural changes will be the major obstacles to attaining improved competitiveness. Government can play a limited role in encouraging and sup- porting the changes in manufacturing, but the impetus must come from private companies. In general, the main responsibility for government is threefold: (1) to recognize the importance of a strong manufacturing sector as a source of goods for international trade and as a crucial factor in continued economic prosperity and strong defense; (2) to support the process of change in man- ufacturing; and (3) to stay abreast of the changes taking place in manufacturing and adapt government policies and programs to maximize their effectiveness in the new environment. In addition, some specific government activities, for instance in education and research, will need to be particularly sensitive to manufacturing requirements and ensure that necessary resources remain avail- able. To summarize, U.S. manufacturers are facing a crucial chal- lenge. Traditional markets are being attacked by imports and traditional practices are not producing adequate results. Changes in labor and management attitudes, organizational design, and the role of the manufacturing function in the total corporate system are needed to regain and maintain competitiveness. New tech

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74 nologies w1U help this process' but m~u~cturlog strategies w10 need to be evaluated to ensure both that the Hat technologies are used and that the ~11 potently of those technologies ~ realized. O.S. m~cturlng is on the threshold ~ ~ exciting n er~tbe Melanges are Tinting but the opportunldes me un- precedented.