This paper provides a conceptual framework that links manufacturing to business unit strategy and focuses on developing the notion of ‘generic manufacturing strategies’ at the strategic business unit (SBU) level. Specifically, an explicit conceptual link is drawn between ‘generic’ business unit strategies and ‘generic’ functional structures in manufacturing. It is proposed that the alternate manufacturing structures implicitly represent ‘generic manufacturing strategies’. Drawing on ideas and concepts from the business strategy literature and manufacturing literature the paper links Porter's generic strategy framework to a complementary manufacturing structure framework that uses three dimensions: process structure complexity, product line complexity, and organizational scope. Viewed from different perspectives, the ‘manufacturing contingency theory’ concepts presented implicitly in the paper can be viewed as an extension of classic research on the interdependence between strategy and structure. The frameworks developed here provide a partial synthesis of knowledge in the broader disciplines of engineering and management without sacrificing academic rigor and practitioner relevance.
Strategic Management Journal – Wiley
Published: May 1, 1989
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