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  A collection of workplace practices, modes of industrial organization, and institutional forms identified with the period since the mid-1970s, following the era referred to as Fordist (see Fordism). It is characterized by the application of production methods considered to be more flexible than those of the Fordist era (see Gertler, 1988). These may include more versatile, programmable machines, labour that is more flexibly deployed (in terms of both quantity and tasks performed), vertical disintegration of large corporations (cf. integration), greater use of inter-firm relations — such as subcontracting, strategic alliances and just-in-time production — and a closer integration of product development, marketing, and production. Accompanying these changes in production and industrial organization is a new set of enabling institutions to restructure labour-management relations, labour training, competition law, and financial markets. Post-Fordism may also be conceived as a response to the crisis conditions that developed toward the end of the Fordist period (a rupture of the post-war compromise between owners and workers, a breaking of the link between wages and productivity gains, and a lack of balance between the aggregate productive capabilities of the economy and the aggregate purchasing power of workers as consumers). Consequently, the classic geographical pattern of economic activity associated with Fordist production (particularly the spatial separation of product development from the actual production of standardized goods) may be contrasted with a post-Fordist geography characterized by strong agglomeration tendencies, to facilitate interaction between vertically disintegrated functions.

An increasingly common alternative appearing in the geographical literature is the term \'after-Fordism\'. Peck and Tickell (1994) adopt this term because, in their view, a coherent regime of accumulation (in which the most important contradictions of the late Fordist period have been resolved successfully) has not yet emerged. They emphasize further that capitalist societies face a collective political choice concerning which of several possible alternative paths they wish to follow. (See flexible accumulation; production complex; transactional analysis.) (MSG)

References Gertler, M.S. 1988: The limits to flexibility: comments on the post-Fordist vision of production and its geography. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 13: 419-32. Peck, J. and Tickell, A. 1994: Searching for a new institutional fix: the after-Fordist crisis and the global-local disorder. In A. Amin, ed., Post-Fordism: a reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 280-315.



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