The study examined the efforts of 11 manufacturing companies to regenerate competitiveness through implementing improvement programmes. Data were collected about the activities seen to constitute improvement programmes as well as the reasons and intentions given for their implementation. Companies were found to have shared a common set of strategic intentions whilst having used differently constituted improvement programmes to achieve them. This similarity in strategic intent was seen as evidence of companies using improvement programmes to facilitate movement from mass to lean production paradigms. AU of the 11 companies studied exhibited widespread use of improvement activities. However, significant differences in individual company choice was interpreted as contra‐evidence of improvements being driven solely by manufacturing fashions. This together with their similarities in strategic intent was seen as evidence that companies tailored their regenerative efforts to suit individual circumstances in pursuit of a generic strategic recipe. Some companies had discovered they had developed new capabilities through their regenerative efforts and these were seen as providing a distinctive competitive advantage. All of the companies set out with strategic intentions which centred on catching up with or imitating the best of their competitors – over a half discovered en route a means for changing the rules of the game.
British Journal of Management – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 1996
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