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Abstract

There is controversy over whether integrated manufacturing (IM), comprising advanced manufacturing technology, just-in-time inventory control and total quality management, empowers or deskills shop floor work. Moreover, both IM and empowerment are promoted on the assumption that they enhance competitiveness. We examine these issues in a study of 80 manufacturing companies. The extent of use of IM was positively associated with empowerment (i.e., job enrichment and employee skill enhancement), but, with the minor exception of AMT, bore little relationship with subsequent company performance. In contrast, the extent of empowerment within companies predicted the subsequent level of company performance controlling for prior performance, with the effect on productivity mediating that on profit. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.