I. The Origins of Sloanist Mass Production
Economies of Scale, Economies of Speed, and Push Distribution
Microeconomic Institutional Forms for Providing Stability
Mass Consumption to Absorb Surplus
State Action to Absorb Surplus: Imperialism
State Action to Absorb Surplus: Creation of New Industries
So the unique potential of electrical power, for many decades, was diverted into a mass-production cul de sac. Only with the decay of the Sloanist system, beginning with the economic stagnation and oil shocks of the 1970s, did electrical power begin to live up to its decentralizing potential. A new mode of industrial production emerged based on the unique potential of electrical power: first the large-scale lean production methods developed by Taichi Ohno, the basis for the Toyota Production System developed in the ’50s and ’60s, which began to cause American industry such grief in the 1980s; and second the model of networked manufacturing (most notably that of Emilia-Romagna) that became so prevalent in the stagnation of the ’70s and ’80s. As Piore and Sabel put it, industry rediscovered, after a century-long dead end, how to integrate electrical power into manufacturing.
The decay of Sloanism, and the industrial models that are supplanting it, will be the topic of the next C4SS paper.