Research conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's International Motor Vehicle Program overturns a common myth about the automobile industry -- that productivity and quality levels are determined by an assembly plant's location. There is, in reality, a wide range of performance among plants in Japan, North America, and Europe. Many of the principles of Henry Ford in their purest forms are still valid and make up the very basis of what is now known as the Toyota Production System. After World War II and before the early 1980s, differences were clear between the production systems of Toyota and most producers in the West. Recently, these differences have begun to lessen as Western producers have adapted Toyota's interpretation of pure Fordism. During most of the postwar period, most Western production systems were buffered against almost everything. Other plants, best exemplified by Toyota, were lean operations. Plants with lean production policies are able to manufacture a wide range of models but maintain high degrees of quality and productivity.
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