While Australian firms have generally recognised the value of continuous improvement (CI) in improving performance, many have yet to develop systems to ensure that the efforts of the CI program are focussed on issues of strategic importance to the company. In fact, as recognised in operations management generally, CI activities can have a significant impact on the development of strategy as well as its implementation. The research reported here uses a CI mapping methodology to chart the relationship between CI and strategy in small‐ to medium‐sized manufacturers. Analysis of the link between the firms’ strategies and CI programs indicates that most firms involved in the study made little attempt to link the two and some appear to be unaware of any need to do so. However, such findings seem to be dependent on company size, the maturity of the CI program and the competitive position of the firm. The paper also includes an examination of the role of operations and shopfloor CI in company strategy, particularly as related to SMEs.
Integrated Manufacturing Systems – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 1, 2000
Keywords: Continuous improvement; Strategy; Small‐ to medium‐sized enterprises; Manufacturing; Case studies.
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