Advancing Sustainable Economic Systems
Chapter 8: Economies of scale and the roots of mass production
Mass consumption, or over-consumption has only been made possible by mass production, which - as we will show - almost inevitably leads to over-production. As Sabel and Zeitlin (1985, 1997) have argued, mass production was never an inevitable outcome of historical developments in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; it was the result of specific choices made at the time. Mass car production can be seen as the archetype of modern mass production. Today it is dominated by large centralized assembly facilities sourcing from world-wide networks of suppliers. However, it is clear that the present structure is closely linked with the adoption, by much of the car industry, of three interlocking strands of activity; in addition to the technological contributions by Ford and Budd outlined in the next chapter, there was also the crucial contribution by General Motors under Sloan that made a mass car market possible by essentially creating the demand for cars.
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