FACTORIES: Disassembling the Line

No problem in industrial psychology has received more attention in both scholarly studies and barroom bull sessions, yet prompted less action, than the monotonous life of the assembly-line worker. Nowhere is the trouble greater than in auto plants, where repetitious, single-task jobs so bore workers that United Auto Workers Vice President Douglas Fraser often tells members that they have "half the day licked" once they have managed to get to the plant. Sweden's two biggest automakers are testing ways to make the job a bit more interesting by, in effect, disassembling portions of their lines.

In some areas Volvo and...

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