This paper examines the extent to which a learning organisation perspective is attainable in small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies. An audit tool is developed from the literature on organisational learning and recognised processes that lead towards becoming a learning organisation. The paper focuses on the application of the audit tool in three UK automotive component suppliers which are all experiencing pressures for change imposed by the major vehicle manufacturers. The main changes are concerned with tiering of the supply chain and substantial delegation of responsibilities to component suppliers including an increasing emphasis on innovation and continuous improvement. The companies presented in the paper are taken from a research project into the impact of changes in supply chain relationships on the operation of small- and medium-sized manufacturing firms in the West Midlands region of the UK. The ways in which the companies are responding to change are presented together with the results of a self-assessment using the developed audit tool. These results suggest that companies of this type tend to focus on change in those areas that involve least challenge to the established power and authority of management.
International Journal of Operations & Production Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 1, 2000
Keywords: Manufacturing; Organizational change; Small‐ to medium‐sized firms
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