Variety management has emerged as a crucial dimension of successful business practice. In this paper, I first provide a framework for managerial decisions about variety. Variety‐creation decisions determine the amount, type, and timing of end‐product variety, while variety‐implementation decisions focus on the design and operation of internal processes and a supply chain to support a firm's variety‐creation strategy. I organize variety‐related decisions into four key decision themes in variety creation: 1) dimensions of variety, 2) product architecture, 3) degree of customization, and 4) timing; and three key decision themes in variety implementation: 1) process capabilities, 2) points of variegation, and 3) day‐to‐day decisions. I describe each theme and review the relevant literature on each theme, with a focus on research that provides insight to problems faced in practice. Finally, I identify untapped avenues for future research that would be of value to the practicing manager, paying special attention to interdependencies among decision themes.
Production and Operations Management – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 2003
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