The application situation and
determinants of postponement
A ﬁeld survey for large manufacturers
in Greater China
Antai Tian-Sheng Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and
Department of Business Management, National Sun Yat-Sen University,
Purpose – The concept of postponement has been developed over many years. Past empirical
research has been conducted almost entirely in Western countries. This paper aims to investigate the
current status of postponement applications in Greater China (including Mainland China, Hong Kong,
and Taiwan) to ascertain the effects of some determinants (i.e. environmental uncertainty, production
techniques, and information system (IS) maturity) on postponement application.
Design/methodology/approach – A ﬁeld survey of big manufacturers of electronic/information
technology, clothing, and electric appliances is conducted. A total of 106 usable responses are received
from 411 surveys yielding a satisfactory response rate of 25.8 percent.
Findings – The result indicates that the number of applications of postponement in Greater China is
growing and the incidence of postponement applications is higher than in the Western countries.
Environmental uncertainty, production techniques, and ISs maturity have have positive effects on
applications of postponement techniques. Some speciﬁc postponement strategies for the three
industries studied are noted.
Originality/value – From an exploratory perspective, the ﬁndings present in this paper may be
useful in the sense that they give a broad and general picture of the current situation of the use of
postponement in certain industries in Greater China.
Keywords China, Information systems, Production scheduling, Operations and production management
Paper type Research paper
Postponement is a strategy that simultaneously reduces delivery times and increases
ﬂexibility by postponing building, packaging, or assembling products until a concrete
order from a client is received (Chopra and Meindl, 2001). The core concept of this
strategy is to have common components during most of the push phases within
a supply chain and to shift product differentiation to pull phases. Many industrial
giants such as Xilinx, HP, Dell, and Benetton, have used postponement and the scope
of postponement research has expanded to include marketing, logistics,
manufacturing, product development, purchasing, and promotion processes (Yang
et al., 2005). Reasons for the increased interest in postponement vary, but growth in
postponement is partially reﬂects the increased demand for customized products
(Boone et al., 2007).
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Journal of Manufacturing Technology
Vol. 20 No. 6, 2009
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited