This paper is aimed at overcoming the contrast between the paradigmatic views and the strategic approaches to manufacturing. It challenges the idea that the paradigmatic perspective actually narrows the strategic space for manufacturers to build their own competitive advantages, because it drives them to conform to emerging best practice. The empirical evidence is drawn from a global sample of 79 production units in the engineering industry that revealed consistent orientation to the strategically flexible production, an emerging manufacturing paradigm characterised by three generic principles to organise and manage production systems, namely: multi‐focusedness and strategic flexibility; integration of business processes across functions and firms’ boundaries; and process ownership, i.e. delegation, involvement and harnessing of intellectual capabilities of the workers. The purpose of the article is twofold: first, to verify the existence of different manufacturing strategies within strategically flexible production, in terms of improvement goals and innovative programs; and, second, to build an empirically‐based taxonomy of such strategies.
International Journal of Operations & Production Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 1, 1998
Keywords: Engineering; Manufacturing strategy; Production; Surveys
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