The Flexible Firm: Strategies for a Subcontractor's Management Control

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A “flexible firm” is one which orients itself towards customers, new technology, lateral organisational arrangements and innovation. It is the “new organisation” where the customers and empowered employees—rather than organisational bureaucracy and capital markets—are said to govern the firm. BusinessPrint is a firm committed to flexibility. However, what flexibility is, how it is achieved and what its effect is on the firm’s profitability are difficult to resolve as flexibility may conflict with productivity. In BusinessPrint, flexibility is debated against two modes of management control: one is the “virtual organisation” and the other is the “political organisation”. The former is predicated upon the possibility to inscribe not only the firm’s internal production processes but also its relations to customers and subcontractors in an information system and to let that inscription organise inter-organisational spaces of flows. In contrast, the latter is mobilised via labour processes in local places designed to motivate workers to show unconditional adaptability and improvisation in production activities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)31-55
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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