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Keywords:

  • lean production;
  • greenfield mills;
  • labour flexibility

The Alberta Newsprint Company mill in Whitecourt, Alberta, with its state-of-the-art paper machine dubbed Wild Rose I' is one of the most efficient newsprint mills in North America. This paper documents the systematic drive by the Alberta Newsprint Company to achieve lean production by the use of flexible work practices in a greenfield mill, which began production in 1990. The analysis begins by examining the way in which the workforce for the new mill was recruited as the first step to creating a flexible workplace. Information from questionnaires completed by 96 employees, who represent approximately half the total labour force, and semi-structured interviews with managers and employees, is used to describe the extent to which the anc mill has achieved various forms of labour flexibility. The nature and extent of these new work arrangements are compared among departments within the mill. Finally, we explore the recent restructuring of wages in the mill. These events illustrate some of the unanticipated consequences arising from the implementation of lean production in a remote geographical setting.