Manufacturing and work organization: occurrences and recurrences in industrial evolution

Purpose of the paper: Considering the renewed interest in manufacturing, the paper offers a reinterpretation of the co-evolution between the production system and work organization in the manufacturing sector.

Methodology: The paper examines the evolution of the relationships between manufacturing and work organization through a reasoned review of the existing literature.

Findings: The article identifies the most recent discontinuities that are driving both manufacturing and work organization towards a new paradigm shift. In addition, the article contributes to the existing literature by analyzing the current debate that reveals an interesting research agenda devoted to manufacturing and work organization.

Research limits: The most visible limitation of this contribution is related to the lack of feedback on an important factor involved in the development of any industrial economic production system, the industrial policy of governments.

Practical implications: The contribution raises some issues of particular relevance about the Italian lack of innovation in work organization, which requires particular attention by Human Resources Managers.

Originality of the paper: The article offers a reinterpretation of the symbiotic evolution of manufacturing and work organization adopting the perspective of the noted philosopher Gianbattista Vico, by delineating different stages of this evolution, and by combining this with the existing literature in the two areas.