An investigation of Toyota's social-technical systems in production leveling

Phillip Marksberry, Fazleena Badurdeen, M. A. Maginnis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to analyze Toyota's production levelling process in an attempt to understand the various social and technical factors required to produce to a changing market. Unfortunately, most outsiders who explore production levelling do not realize that it involves various departments outside of manufacturing. Consequently, due to the dynamic nature of production levelling many unintended social and management factors between departments makes cooperation difficult. Design/methodology/approach - This paper conducts a case study at one of Toyota's automobile plants to examine the level of departmental and social integration that is applied when implementing production levelling. Based on observations, the problems of production levelling are analyzed and, accordingly, possible solutions are explored. Findings - The findings of this work show that Toyota achieves production levelling because it is viewed as a company-wide activity that cuts across many departments in promoting manufacturing consistency. Production levelling criteria include both the design and manufacturing aspects which brings evidence that manufacturing is limited in its ability to eliminate and reduce market fluctuation. The work also illustrates that Toyota reinforces departmental cooperation through its human resources policies, and many other unique management mechanisms. Originality/value - The paper provides new insight on how Toyota achieves production levelling by considering a more holistic and social-technical approach. In particular, interdepartmental activities are emphasized in achieving company-wide goals that impact how departments agree to operate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604-620
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Technology Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2011


  • Lean production
  • Planning and control
  • Production
  • Production scheduling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Strategy and Management


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