Mass customization and system development: case findings from the packaging industry

Mass customization and system development: case findings from the packaging industry Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a description of a mass customization (MC) system based on the findings of a medium size manufacturing company in Estonia. The MC system is developed in order to satisfy its customers' individual needs with customized products on a mass basis. Specific challenges for a former mass producer to achieve the flexibility demanded by today's market are also addressed. Design/methodology/approach – The theoretical background draws from the literature of MC strategies, operational modes, and key capabilities – which is brought together through an in‐depth case study that allows for the extension to three complementing theories. Primary and secondary data about the company practices are extensively used to ensure the validity of results. Findings – In contrast to the extant literature, it is found that the company's success comes from the use of several MC strategies at the same time, rather than just one. This leads to the proposition that the decision for determining the optimal operational mode for each customer depends upon a trade‐off of the customer's value to the company and the extra cost of deeper scope customization. It is found that an important peculiarity is the lower cost of adjacent orders that share similar characteristics. This analysis also highlightes the importance of inter‐functional cooperation and the central role of key account managers in order to overcome the inflexibility of company operational processes. Research limitations/implications – As in one‐company case studies, future research is needed to understand the degree findings hold true in other manufacturing companies, and to what degree the findings are idiomatic of the particular company or similar firms in the Baltic emerging business environment. Practical implications – The present study contributes to research knowledge by examining the real‐life MC system in an integrated way, which is a novel attempt to connect different streams of MC literature. Moreover, it provides a starting point for further study of overcoming inflexibility challenges in MC. Originality/value – This is the first known study that has examined the concept of MC in a non‐Western setting such as Estonia. The value of such research results from extending the knowledge of the concept to rapidly advancing markets. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Baltic Journal of Management Emerald Publishing

Mass customization and system development: case findings from the packaging industry

Baltic Journal of Management, Volume 5 (1): 18 – Jan 12, 2010

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2010 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1746-5265
DOI
10.1108/17465261011016586
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a description of a mass customization (MC) system based on the findings of a medium size manufacturing company in Estonia. The MC system is developed in order to satisfy its customers' individual needs with customized products on a mass basis. Specific challenges for a former mass producer to achieve the flexibility demanded by today's market are also addressed. Design/methodology/approach – The theoretical background draws from the literature of MC strategies, operational modes, and key capabilities – which is brought together through an in‐depth case study that allows for the extension to three complementing theories. Primary and secondary data about the company practices are extensively used to ensure the validity of results. Findings – In contrast to the extant literature, it is found that the company's success comes from the use of several MC strategies at the same time, rather than just one. This leads to the proposition that the decision for determining the optimal operational mode for each customer depends upon a trade‐off of the customer's value to the company and the extra cost of deeper scope customization. It is found that an important peculiarity is the lower cost of adjacent orders that share similar characteristics. This analysis also highlightes the importance of inter‐functional cooperation and the central role of key account managers in order to overcome the inflexibility of company operational processes. Research limitations/implications – As in one‐company case studies, future research is needed to understand the degree findings hold true in other manufacturing companies, and to what degree the findings are idiomatic of the particular company or similar firms in the Baltic emerging business environment. Practical implications – The present study contributes to research knowledge by examining the real‐life MC system in an integrated way, which is a novel attempt to connect different streams of MC literature. Moreover, it provides a starting point for further study of overcoming inflexibility challenges in MC. Originality/value – This is the first known study that has examined the concept of MC in a non‐Western setting such as Estonia. The value of such research results from extending the knowledge of the concept to rapidly advancing markets.

Journal

Baltic Journal of ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 12, 2010

Keywords: Mass customization; Customer relations; Operations management; Packaging; Estonia

References

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