(This passage was written in 1993.)

Fueled by Japanese economic success and by concern over the viability of American industry, interest in Japanese production strategies has exploded in the last decade. Supporters of the Japanese production model claim that it supplants the "Fordist/Taylorist" system—which emphasizes mass production, assembly lines, the breakdown of complex jobs into simple repetitive tasks, and the separation of manual and mental work—with a system of flexible production based on work teams, integrated tasks; and the reunification of manual and mental work. They contend that the Japanese system treats its workforce as its most valuable resource and benefits from practices that maximize the skills, cooperation, and job retention of its workers. Yet to its critics, the Japanese model is merely an aggrandized assembly line. They argue that, compared to the FordistTaylorist" system, the Japanese system subjects its workers to higher levels of production speedup, supervision, and stress; furthermore, the critics claim, higher Japanese production rates are due to production speedup, not to organizational innovation or the maximization of human resources. In fact, however, the Japanese model is neither as miraculous as its supporters claim nor as bleak as its critics contend: it may facilitate production speedup and increase workers' stress levels, but because the Japanese model is so dependent on their skills, it may also give workers greater bargaining leverage.

With which of the following statements about the relationship between a production system and its workers' bargaining power would the author of the passage be most likely to agree?

The rate of productivity within a production system is the single best predictor of workers' ability to increase their bargaining power.

Production systems that are dependent on cooperation among employees are less likely to provide workers with opportunities to increase their bargaining leverage.

A low level of worker supervision within a production system is the surest indicator of the existence of significant bargaining leverage.

The value placed on worker skills within a production system affects the bargaining power of its workers.

A high rate of job retention within a production system is directly related to workers' high potential for gaining bargaining leverage.


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