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A Review of Empirical Manufacturing Strategy Studies

Elliott D. Minor III, Rhonda L. Hensley and D. Robley Wood Jr


School of Business, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Introduction There has been a growing interest in manufacturing strategy over the years. Although most articles on the topic have been conceptual in nature, the number of empirical studies has grown as well. Empirical studies are defined here as those involving the gathering and analysis of data, and subsequent reporting of findings and conclusions. Adam and Swamidass[1] and others have noted the critical importance of empirical research to the continuing development of the discipline. It is therefore important to examine periodically the state of empirical manufacturing strategy research, both to assess the progress to date, and to look towards the future. Others including Adam and Swamidass[1] and Anderson et al.[2] have presented reviews of the discipline in general. This study is focused exclusively on empirical manufacturing strategy research which has not been the primary emphasis of the previously cited reviews. In this article, a framework is presented for the classification and comparison of empirical manufacturing strategy research. This framework is then used to categorize and compare the empirical manufacturing strategy studies. Suggestions for future research efforts are also presented. Selection of Empirical Studies Twenty-seven empirical studies were identified, all of which are published in refereed journals. They are published in a broad range of journals although the majority (16 out of 27) appear in operations and production management journals. Four appear in general business or strategy journals. The distribution of articles among journals is presented in Table I. The studies in Table I address process or content issues, or both. Process is broadly defined as the pattern in which manufacturing strategies are developed. Content issues include product cost, quality, flexibility, and other issues that are relevant to the manufacturing task. Content-related studies
The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the lead authors, both for participating in the classification process, and for bringing other studies to our attention.

Empirical Manufacturing Strategy Studies 5


Received September 1992 Revised February 1993

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 14 No. 1, 1994, pp. 5-25. MCB University Press, 0144-3577

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Name of journal Production journals: International Journal of Operations & Production Management Journal of Operations Management International Journal of Production Research Management science journals: Interfaces Decision Sciences Management Science OMEGA International Journal of Technology Management General business or strategy journals: Strategic Management Journal California Management Review Management International Review European Management Journal

Number of articles

6 6 4

3 1 1 1 1

Table I. Journals in which Empirical Articles Appeared

1 1 1 1

were included if they addressed the relationships among content issues, or their relationship to corporate and business performance. For a discussion of manufacturing strategy process and content issues, see Ward et al.[3]. Inclusion of empirical studies in our classification framework is limited to those that have been published in refereed journals. Each has, therefore, been through a rigorous peer-review process. Although there are other important outlets for empirical studies, the results of most studies either have been or eventually will be included in the refereed literature. A brief review of empirical studies which have not been published in refereed journals is included later in this article as a service to researchers. A Framework for Empirical Manufacturing Strategy Research Frameworks for the comparison of empirical research have appeared frequently in the business strategy literature. They have proved to be a valuable means of comparing a large number of studies that are focused on a common topic. For example, Armstrong[4] classified studies which addressed the value of formal planning processes according to treatment, conditions, and results. Armstrong solicited the assistance of the authors of each study as part of the classification process. Robinson and Pearce[5] reviewed the small firm strategic planning literature. Studies were classified according to sample size, type of business, study focus, methodology, and findings. Pearce et al.[6] reviewed 18 empirical studies which examined the relationship between formal planning and financial performance. Studies were first categorized

according to planning formality, source of data, results, contribution, and Empirical other factors. Manufacturing After reviewing the frameworks used in the classification and comparison Strategy Studies of business strategy literature, a framework was developed for empirical manufacturing strategy studies. In developing the framework, two criteria were given priority. First, the framework had to facilitate comparison of 7 methodological details such as sample size, data collection method, and type of industry. Second, it should allow for accurate assessment of predominant trends, results, and contributions of the studies. Three categories were then selected which were study design, method and focus, and results and contributions. Study design describes the methodological details and includes the type of industry, sample size, data collection method, and whether the study was cross-sectional or longitudinal. Study method identifies whether the study variables were content or process related, and whether the analysis was quantitative or qualitative. The principle focus of the study is also described. Finally, the results and the contribution of the study to the manufacturing strategy literature are summarized. The Classification Process Methodological details such as the type of industry and sample size are reported in most studies, and are therefore easily gathered. The contribution of a study and, to a lesser extent, its most important results and conclusions are, to some degree, subjective. We therefore asked for the assistance of the lead author of each study in classifying their work. We first independently classified each study and, after a period of discussion, arrived at a consensus classification according to the criteria described above. For each study, a copy of the preliminary classification was then sent to the lead author for comment and review. Classifications of two other studies and a complete bibliography were also included so the lead author would have a frame of reference. The lead author was requested to review the bibliography to ensure that no published empirical studies in the field of manufacturing strategy were omitted. Upon return, the classifications were re-examined and amended, if necessary, in accordance with the suggestions of the lead author. The revised classifications were then returned to the authors for final review. We are happy to report that all lead authors co-operated with us in the classification effort. Discussion The result of our classification efforts are presented in Tables II, III, and IV. First, we address methodological issues, and then several of the important premisses and theories which have been espoused in the literature. The important premisses upon which manufacturing strategy is based have been

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Table II. Study Design Cross-sectional/ Manufacturing/ longitudinal (CS/L) service (M/S) CS CS CS CS CS CS CS/L CS CS CS L L CS CS/L CS CS/L CS CS CS CS CS CS CS CS CS CS CS M M M M M M M M 64 300 39 65 35 35 125 120 Q Q,I Q I I,M I,M Q Q year(s) M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M 53 6 163 674 224 187 510 163 167 1 32 12 125 66 1 125 126 6 446 Sample size Sample industry Data collection methoda Q I MFSP (1985) MFSP (1986) MFSP (1990) MFSP (1988) MFSP (1983, 1984,1985) MFSP (1985) MFSP (1988) FS I FS Q Q I Q Q FS Q Cross industry Cross industry Cross industry Cross industry Cross industry Cross industry Cross industry Cross industry Cross industry Electrical supply Cross industry Cross industry Swedish engineering industry Cross industry Manufacturing Cross industry Cross industry Cross industry US/Japanese precision Electronics Electronics Cross industry Cross industry Cross industry Machinery and machine tools Machinery and machine tools Swedish engineering industry Cross industry

Investigators

Anderson et al. 1991[7] Cleveland et al. 1989[8] De Meyer and Ferdows 1987[9] De Meyer et al. 1989[10] De Meyer and Ferdows 1991[11] De Meyer and Ferdows 1991[12] Ferdows et al.1986[13] Ferdows and Lindberg 1987[14] Ferdows and De Meyer 1990[15] Fine and Hax 1985[16] Galbraith 1990[17] Hayes and Clark 1985[18] Hrte et al. 1987[19] Hrte et al. 1991[20] Lindberg et al. 1988[21] Lindberg 1990[22] Lindberg and Trygg 1991[23] Marucheck et al. 1990[24] Reitsperger and Daniel 1990[25]

Richardson et al. 1985[26] Schmenner 1982[27] Schroeder et al. 1986[28] Schroeder et al. 1989[29] Swamidass 1986[30] Swamidass and Newell 1987[31] Tunlv1990[32] Utterback and Abernathy 1975[33]

aData collection method: Q = Questionnaire; I = Interviews; FS = Field study; MFSP = Manufacturing Futures Survey Project data (project

is also shown)

Investigators Quant Quant Quant Quant C C C/P Dimensions (factors) that define and categorize strategies for manufacturing Manufacturing strategy concerns among European, Japanese, and US manufacturers P Manufacturing strategy process and its relationship to business strategy process Production competence and its relationship to strategy, process, and performance

Qualitative/ quantitative (Qual/Quant) Focus of study

Content/ process (C/P)

Anderson et al. 1991[7]

Cleveland et al. 1989[8]

De Meyer and Ferdows 1987[9]

De Meyer et al. 1989[10]

De Meyer and Ferdows 1991[11] Quant Quant Quant Quant Qual Quant Quant Quant Quant Qual C C C C C C/P C C C C

Quant C The state of European manufacturing on the eve of Europe 1992 and the opening of East European markets The current state of manufacturing strategy among European manufacturers Assessment and comparison of strategic priorities among European, Japanese, and US.manufacturers Comparison of flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) firms to non-FMS firms, and the broader impact of FMS on strategies for manufacturing The nature of trade-offs among quality, dependability, flexibility, and cost-related manufacturing capabilities Co-ordination of manufacturing strategy with functional and business-level strategies Role of intra-firm technology transfers in attainment of flexibility and plant focus Factors that affect productivity at the factory level Examination of competitive priorities, programmes and concerns of Swedish manufacturers Assessment of strategic directions, competitive means, concerns, and future plans among Swedish manufacturers Effects of vendor delivery performance on manufacturing flexibility

De Meyer and Ferdows 1991[12]

Ferdows et al. 1986[13]

Ferdows and Lindberg 1987[14]

Ferdows and De Meyer 1990[15]

Fine and Hax 1985[16]

Galbraith 1990[17]

Hayes and Clark 1985[18]

Hrte et al. 1987[19]

Hrte et al. 1991[20]

Lindberg et al. 1988[21]

Empirical Manufacturing Strategy Studies

Table III. Study Method and Focus

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Table III. (Continued) Qualitative/ quantitative (Qual/Quant) Focus of study Relationship of the degree of integration of technology, work organization, and Production and Inventory Control Systems (PICS) plans to the strategic capabilities of manufacturing Consistency between suppliers manufacturing strategies and perceived weaknesses in Swedish supplier-manufacturer relationships Experiences of firms implementing manufacturing strategy Comparison of top managerial philosophy towards manufacturing strategy in Japanese and US firms Effects of degree of congruence between corporate and plant missions, and degree of corporate/plant focus on corporate performance Multiple-plant manufacturing strategies among Fortune 500 manufacturers How MS is defined in practice, identification of strategies, and identification of content elements of MS Definition, measurement, and improvement of manufacturing innovation Comparison of CEOs and manufacturing managers (MMs) views towards MS The effect of the independent variable environmental certainty on intermediate variables manufacturing flexibility and the role of manufacturing managers in strategic decision making (RMMSDM), and the effect of all three variables on business performance Relationship between the degree of decentralization and MS; how MS varies according to the manner in which decisions are made The relationship between product strategy, innovation, and production process development Quant C Content/ process (C/P) Quant Qual Quant Quant Quant Quant Qual Qual Qual C/P P C C/P C C C P C Quant Quant C P

Investigators

Lindberg 1990[22]

Lindberg and Trygg 1991[23]

Marucheck et al. 1990[24]

Reitsperger and Daniel 1990[25]

Richardson et al. 1985[26]

Schmenner 1982 [27]

Schroeder et al. 1986[28]

Schroeder et al. 1989[29]

Swamidass 1986[30]

Swamidass and Newell 1987[31]

Tunlv 1990[32]

Utterback and Abernathy1975[33]

Investigators Business strategy is better documented and communicated than manufacturing strategy; manufacturing strategy process could be improved by more manufacturing involvement in the business strategy process Production competence is a measurable function of production process in relation to business strategy; performance is positively related to competence Eight dimensions, including flexibility, role of workforce, and quality, appear to capture and explain differences in manufacturing strategies European and US firms have nearly identical competitive priorities (quality, delivery reliability) although the US better aligns its action plans with priorities; Japan, having achieved high quality, focuses on cost and flexibility European manufacturers efforts are reflected in improvements in profits, quality, and delivery; integration of manufacturing with business and environment is given high priority Product quality remains the competitive priority of European firms and is positively related to improvements in manufacturing performance; less emphasis on technology as a cure for manufacturing problems Development of and empirical evidence for a theory of production competence that links business strategy and production process Identification of dimensions that distinguish between, and categorize, strategies for manufacturing Development of a theory and framework for manufacturing strategy process research; identification of strengths and weaknesses in manufacturing strategy process development

Results

Contributions to research

Anderson et al. 1991[7]

Cleveland et al. 1989[8]

De Meyer and Ferdows 1987[9]

De Meyer et al. 1989[10]

Identification of competitive priorities among manufacturers worldwide, and degree of consistency between priorities and manufacturing action plans

De Meyer and Ferdows 1991[11]

Analysis of current state of European manufacturing, evidence of manufacturers concern for integration of manufacturing with business and environment Identification of competitive emphasis of European firms; evidence of positive impact of quality improvement programmes, and interrelationships between programmes and performance

De Meyer and Ferdows 1991[12]

Empirical Manufacturing Strategy Studies

Table IV. Study Results and Contributions

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Table IV. (Continued) Results Competitive priorities of European and US manufacturers are oriented towards quality improvement while Japanese seek lower cost and more flexibility through process improvements FMS firms appear more attentive to all aspects of operations relative to non-FMS firms; this attention fosters a more significant and strategic role for manufacturing in FMS firms relative to non-FMS firms Long-term manufacturing improvement is most likely if attention is devoted first to quality, and then to dependability, speed, and cost, in that order; the nature and severity of trade-offs varies according to the order in which improvements are sought Detailed examination of content elements relevant to MS (cost, quality, delivery and flexibility); importance of co-ordination of MS with functional and corporate-level strategies Success of core manufacturing technology transfers (CMTT) varies according to the complexity and stage of development of the technology, and degree of prior experience with CMTT Contributions to research Identification of competitive priorities among European, Japanese, and US manufacturers; evidence that quality improvement is the foundation for long-term improvement in flexibility and cost Identification of positive role of FMS in encouraging development of manufacturing strategy (MS); identification of manufacturing strategy Development of and empirical evidence for a cumulative sand cone model that helps to redefine the nature of tradeoffs among manufacturing capabilities Development of framework for design of MS and its synthesis with the formal corporate strategic planning process Identification of CMTT as a component of MS; role of CMTT in achievement of flexibility and focus Total factor productivity (TFP) is related positively Validation of TFP as effective measure of manufacturing to increases in quality, and negatively to increases performance measurement in work-in-process inventory and confusion (instability caused by managerial actions)

Investigators

Ferdows et al. 1986[13]

Ferdows and Lindberg 1987[14]

Ferdows and De Meyer 1990[15]

Fine and Hax 1985[16]

Galbraith 1990[17]

Hayes and Clark 1985[18]

Investigators Respondents pursue a product-oriented strategy supported by focus on quality, product performance, and delivery reliability; relationship between product standardization and production process appears to be low Respondents emphasize dependability and flexibility as means of achieving their strategic priority, defence of current market share; future plans focus on expanding worker responsibility and involvement improved Manufacturing flexibility is significantly affected by suppliers delivery reliability; suppliers performance is in turn related to planning inflexibility and workforce organization Identification of strategic directions and competitive means of Swedish manufacturers; empirical evidence that improved quality of working life is positively related to dependability and flexibility Identification of competitive priorities, concerns and programmes for a large sample of Swedish manufacturers

Results

Contributions to research

Hrte et al. 1987[19]

Hrte et al. 1991[20]

Lindberg et al. 1988[21]

Identification of impact of suppliers on downstream manufacturing flexibility; empirical evidence of relationship of planning and workforce to manufacturing flexibility

Lindberg 1990[22]

Degree of integration of technology, work Recognition of interdependence among technology, work, organization, and PICs plans affects level of and PICS plans, and relationship of plan integration to resulting quality and workforce-related problems strategic manufacturing capabilities (length and timing of plans is a surrogate for degree of integration) Poor material flow and quality problems hinder Development of manufacturing strategy framework for suppliers delivery reliability; suppliers strategies study of supplier-manufacturer relationships to improve delivery reliability focus on improving material flow but largely ignore quality improvement

Lindberg and Trygg 1991[23]

Empirical Manufacturing Strategy Studies

Table IV. (Continued)

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Table IV. (Continued) Results MS generally follows from, and is iterative and reactive to business and marketing strategies; corporate culture, typified by obsolete cost accounting procedures, appears to be a serious impediment to implementation of MS Managers of both Japanese and U.S manufacturing share a dynamic evolution (DV) view towards manufacturing characterized by a philosophy of continuous improvement and high degree of top management involvement Degree of corporate and plant focus, and degree of corporate/plant mission congruence are positively related to corporate performance Identifies and characterizes four different multiple-plant strategies (product, market area, process and general purpose) Contributions to research Identification of problem areas, generally infrastructural, that constrain implementation of MS; empirical support for reactive nature of MS Empirical validation of US managements changing views towards manufacturing; implication of previous literature was that US managers generally view manufacturing as static and non-evolutionary Development of framework for categorization of strategies of manufacturing firms Identification of distinct multiple-plant strategies and their associated characteristics MS follows from, and is consistent with business One of the early empirical studies of MS; provides strategy; manufacturing mission is link to evidence that MS is more formally developed than was business strategy; consensus among respondents indicated in the literature at the time that manufacturing strengthens the business

Investigators

Marucheck et al. 1990[24]

Reitsperger and Daniel 1990[25]

Richardson et al. 1985[26]

Schmenner 1982[27]

Schroeder et al. 1986[28]

Investigators Factors important to innovation and measurement Development of empirically-based, conceptual framework of innovation include establishment of goals, type for examination of innovation and its effect on of organizational structure, corporate culture, manufacturing performance and availability of resources CEOs appear most focused on quality as critical element of MS, while managers appear more focused on cost and delivery reliability Corporate performance is positively related to the role of manufacturing managers in strategic decision making (RMMSDM); performance worsens as environmental uncertainty increases Companies with formalized MS tend to have a more decentralized structure, effectively communicate goals to all levels of the organization, and pursue longer-term goals relative to organizations with informal MS Degree and timing of innovation is closely related to the stages of product and process development; innovation is focused on products in early stages of product development, and on production processes in latter stages Identification of differences in focus of CEOs and MMs; use of multi-respondent,in-direct assessment method useful in evaluating MS Application of proven methodology (path analysis) to MS; empirical evidence of relationship among environmental uncertainty, manufacturing flexibility, RMMSDM, and business performance Development of framework for measurement and evaluation of decentralization, and its relationship to MS

Results

Contributions to research

Schroeder et al. 1989[29]

Swamidass 1986[30]

Swamidass and Newell 1987[31]

Tunlv 1990[32]

Utterback and Abernathy 1975[33]

Identification of relationship of innovation to product and production process development; adaptive production processes are necessary for innovation

Empirical Manufacturing Strategy Studies

Table IV. (Continued)

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important premisses upon which manufacturing strategy is based have been well documented in the conceptual literature by Anderson et al.[2] and others. Methodology and Data Collection Samples range from field studies of a single firm to large-scale, cross-industry mail surveys. All studies are based in manufacturing industry, and all but three are cross-sectional. The populations from which samples are drawn are unique with the exception of those studies based on the Manufacturing Futures Survey Project (MFSP). The MFSP is a continuing project to develop an ongoing base of international manufacturing data. The project began in 1983 as a co-operative effort among Boston University (US), INSEAD (France), and Waseda University (Japan). Annually, researchers survey large manufacturers in their respective regions. Data from the MFSP and the closely related Swedish Manufacturing Project are the basis for almost half of the empirical studies cited in this article. MFSP-based studies have relatively large sample sizes, ranging from 125 to 674. Continuing development of such a large database will facilitate longitudinal studies, which are necessary to monitor changes in manufacturing strategies over time. Relationship and Congruence with Business Strategy A basic premiss of the literature is that manufacturing strategy is most effective when synchronized with and supportive of business-level strategy. Studies that have addressed this premiss suggest that managers generally perceive this to be the case[26,28]). The Richardson et al.[26] study further suggests that the degree of congruence between manufacturing and business strategy has a positive effect on corporate performance. Swamidass[30], however, found in his study that high-level management places emphasis on quality and technology while manufacturing managers stress cost and delivery performance. Such a discrepancy could result in lack of congruence. Further, De Meyer et al .[10] found that the degree of consistency between strategic priorities and actual manufacturing plans varies among geographical regions. As to whether business strategy is or should be driven by manufacturing strategy, or vice versa, the consensus to date is that business strategy is the driving force. Schroeder et al. [28] reported that manufacturing strategy appeared to be driven by marketing strategy, although they note a high degree of congruence between the two. Marucheck et al.[24] concluded that manufacturing strategy is perceived to be reactive and subordinate to business strategy. Relationship to Performance Relatively few studies have specifically evaluated the effect of manufacturing strategy on overall business performance. Richardson et al.[26] found that the

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degree of focus as well as the degree of congruence between corporate and Empirical plant-level missions are positively related to corporate performance. Manufacturing Swamidass and Newell[31] noted a positive relationship between Strategy Studies performance and the degree of involvement of manufacturing managers in strategic decision making. Performance was adversely affected as environmental uncertainty increased. 17 Cleveland et al. [8] reported a positive relationship between production competence and performance. Production competence was defined in terms of nine performance areas that together determine manufacturing strengths and weaknesses. The link between manufacturing strategy and manufacturing performance has received somewhat more attention. For example, studies have investigated relationships between quality and manufacturing improvement[15]), between productivity and quality[18], and between manufacturing flexibility and the delivery reliability of suppliers[21,22]. Formality of Manufacturing Strategy The effects of the formality of strategy and planning on business performance have received considerable attention in the business strategy literature. Only two studies were found that specifically addressed this in the context of manufacturing strategy. Anderson et al.[7] compared the degree of formality of business with manufacturing strategy. In terms of the degree to which strategies are communicated and documented, their conclusion was that manufacturing strategy is clearly less formalized than business strategy. Tunlv[32] reported that businesses with more formal manufacturing strategies tend to be more decentralized, more effective in communicating strategies among organizational levels, and pursue longer-term goals than those having informal strategies. Evidence of the relative informality of manufacturing strategy is reflected in a lack of clear understanding of the term in the minds of manufacturing managers[28]. Swamidass[30] noted that manufacturing strategy is often not explicitly defined nor recognized, and that CEOs and manufacturing managers disagree on a definition. Manufacturing Strategy Content A number of studies have been conducted to identify or categorize manufacturing strategy content. Fine and Hax[16] examined four principal content issues cost, quality, delivery, and flexibility. De Meyer and Ferdows[9] used principal component analysis to identify eight dimensions of manufacturing strategy including quality, flexibility, product-process adjustments, and the role of the workforce. These dimensions correspond to specific content issues. Flexibility was shown to be the most important to the respondents. Specific content variables have been addressed in a number of studies, including the role of technology in manufacturing strategy[14,17], and the

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effects of innovation on manufacturing performance[29,33]. Quality and its relationship to other variables has been investigated by Ferdows et al.[13], De Meyer and Ferdows[12], and Ferdows and De Meyer[15]. The effect of supplier reliability on manufacturing performance has been investigated by Lindberg et al.[21] and Lindberg and Trygg[23]. Finally, the effects of environmental uncertainty on business performance have been addressed by Swamidass and Newell[31]. A listing of the content issues addressed by each study appears in Table V. Competitive Priorities Beginning with Ferdows et al .[13], a stream of research based on the Manufacturing Futures Survey Project has focused on the concerns, programmes, and priorities among American, European, and Japanese manufacturers. These competitive priorities reflect the content elements of manufacturing strategy, and the relative importance of each. On the basis of this series of studies, American and European manufacturers are most concerned with improving product quality. Their Japanese competitors, on the other hand, are more concerned with improving flexibility and reducing costs[10,13,15]. On the basis of their results, Ferdows and De Meyer[15] proposed a sandcone model wherein improved quality is the foundation of long-term manufacturing improvement. According to the sandcone model, long-term improvement is most likely when pursued in sequential fashion, beginning

Authors De Meyer and Ferdows 1987[9] De Meyer et al. 1989[10] De Meyer and Ferdows 1991[11] De Meyer and Ferdows 1991[12] Ferdows et al. 1986[13] Ferdows and Lindberg 1987[14] Ferdows and De Meyer 1990[15] Fine and Hax 1985[16] Galbraith 1990[17] Hrte et al. 1987[19] Hrte et al. 1991[20] Lindberg et al. 1988[21] Lindberg 1990[22] Lindberg and Trygg 1991[23] Reitsperger and Daniel 1990[25] Schroeder et al. 1989[29] Utterback and Abernathy 1975[33]

Cost

Quality

Flexibility Dependability

Table V. Manufacturing Strategy Content Studies

with quality, and progressing through dependability, flexibility, and cost Empirical efficiency. The model is consistent with the competitive priorities of Japanese Manufacturing manufacturers. Having achieved a high level of product quality, the Japanese Strategy Studies are in a position to improve flexibility and reduce costs. The stream of research on which the model is built is evidence of how empirical research may be used to develop theory, as well as to evaluate it.

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Suggestions for Future Empirical Research In the preceding sections, empirical manufacturing strategy studies have been examined. Based on our findings, and comparing the state of empirical manufacturing strategy research to disciplines having more experience with this type of empirical research, the following suggestions are offered: q Explicit in the definition of empirical research is reproducibility. Methodological details, beginning with those presented in Table II, should be described in sufficient detail to enable future studies to be validated against the results of previous studies. The conclusions of a one-time study may be affected by factors that are not clear or known to the researcher at the time. The finding of similar results over a range of studies that cover different time frames and populations is strong evidence for their validity. q In conjunction with the previous point, a sound research methodology is the foundation of empirical research. With few exceptions, the effects of environment and industry, for example, have received little attention. Controlling for as many factors as possible increases the likelihood that findings will not be affected by factors other than those specifically under consideration. For detailed discussions of methodological issues, see Alreck and Settle[34] and Flynn et al.[35]. q Almost all of the studies examined here are cross-sectional. There is a need for more longitudinal studies in order to examine how strategies are adapted and modified over time. The Manufacturing Futures Survey Project, for example, offers a promising source. With the continuing development of such a database, there is a great potential for longitudinal studies. q It is perhaps a statement of the obvious that empirical research is hampered by lack of data. Even the most carefully planned surveys are adversely affected by lack of response and by lack of standards in reporting financial and manufacturing data. Development of databases for empirical analysis would be a definite contribution to the discipline. For this to happen, manufacturing managers must have an interest in the research, and something to gain by making the effort to respond. This might include getting professional organizations such as the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) involved in the research design and data collection process. It is worth noting

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q

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that only one of the journals listed in Table I, Interfaces, is exclusively practitioner oriented. If the results of empirical research are to have an impact, they must be communicated to those who stand to gain the most manufacturing managers as well as to fellow researchers. With the exception of a progression of articles based on the MFSP, there is little in the way of progressive streams of research as yet. The necessity to break new ground notwithstanding, there is a need to expand and build on current themes and theories proposed to date. The business strategy literature, for example, has built a solid stream of research to investigate the relationship between formality and performance. Similar efforts on these and other topics would benefit empirical manufacturing strategy research. Manufacturing strategy is ultimately judged according to its impact on business and corporate performance. Relatively few of the studies listed in Tables II, III, and IV specifically address the effects of manufacturing strategy on business performance. Demonstrating the positive effects of strategy on performance would represent a considerable contribution, and would help to draw the interest of manufacturing managers as well. Concurrent with the interest in manufacturing strategy has been a growing interest in how manufacturing relates to other business functions such as marketing and management accounting. Studies of manufacturing strategy would benefit by further considering crossfunctional relationships. In addition, studies that bridge functional boundaries reach larger audiences, and encourage cross-functional cooperation. Relative to the previous point, consideration should be given to how manufacturing strategies interrelate among different manufacturers. For example, are there profiles of manufacturing strategies that would tend to mix well together? This could be useful information to manufacturing managers in choosing suppliers and manufacturing partners. The work of Lindberg et al.[21] and Lindberg and Trygg[23] is an encouraging step in this direction. The economy of the United States is overwhelmingly a service economy. Our review of the literature indicated that there is a need for more empirical research in service industries.

Other Empirical Manufacturing Strategy Research We would be remiss in our review of empirical manufacturing strategy research if we did not include a brief review of writings on this topic which have been published in outlets other than refereed journals. The results of several studies listed in Tables II, III and IV have been described in similar fashion or expanded upon in other outlets. Studies based

on the MFSP are the basis for two studies by Roth et al. [36] and Miller et Empirical al. [37] which were published as chapters in Managing International Manufacturing Manufacturing. Both addressed differences in competitive priorities among Strategy Studies major manufacturing regions. Results from the Hayes and Clark[18] study have been extended as chapters in Dynamic Manufacturing [38] and The Uneasy Alliance[39]. 21 Other studies represent extensions of studies of the topics included in our tables or address totally new issues. Chew et al.[40] provide an interesting look at intra-firm variation in productivity. De Meyer[41] used Porters[42] generic strategy framework to identify generic manufacturing strategies based on European Manufacturing Futures Survey Data. De Meyer used cluster analysis to identify three strategic types a manufacturing innovators group, a high performance products group, and a marketing-oriented group. De Meyer compares the results to a similar study by Roth and Miller[43] that uses data from the US, but cautions that generic strategies may differ by region. Lindberg[44] published a study measuring the social success of the implementation of advanced manufacturing technology, in particular the implementation of a flexible manufacturing system (FMS). Social success is defined in terms of work satisfaction expectancy and outcomes, and perceived work characteristics. Work satisfaction includes measures of influence, work interest, and skill development, and work characteristics include measures of content stimulation, autonomy, and career estimate. The results indicate a positive relationship between the level of employee involvement in the implementation process and overall job satisfaction. Flynn et al.[45] used data collected by the Manufacturing Futures Survey and found that a complete manufacturing strategy was positively related to performance. In their study, manufacturing strategy was defined in terms of the firms level of involvement in strategic manufacturing, total quality control, just-in-time, human resources, and process technology. These variables were in turn a proxy for World Class Manufacturing. Two empirical studies were published in Manufacturing Strategy: the Research Agenda for the Next Decade[46]. Roth and Miller[47] used data from the US section of the 1988 MFSP to identify characteristics of winning business unit performers. These characteristics included higher return on assets and profitability, and superior performance in terms of delivery, flexibility, price, and market scope. Dsouza et al.[46] identified differences in manufacturing strategy in new ventures classified as either dependent or independent. Dependent new ventures were those sponsored by a corporation. They noted significant differences in the manufacturing strategy of the two groups as gauged by variables such as the use of quality as strategy, the development and use of in-house technology, and the emphasis on new product development. Several of the authors we contacted to verify our classifications forwarded reports of their most current studies. Bates et al.[48] reported a significant

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relationship between organizational culture and manufacturing. Those companies utilizing manufacturing strategy were found to have differences in organizational culture relative to those that do not. Organizational culture was gauged according to measures such as centralization of authority and degree of involvement in group versus individual work. Companies which did not utilize manufacturing strategy were found to have relatively strong hierarchies of authority. Tunlv[49] examined the relationship between the existence and use of manufacturing strategies, and business performance. Business units having a manufacturing strategy performed at higher levels than those which did not. Moreover, business units with a manufacturing strategy placed high emphasis on quality, lead times, and flexibility. Galbraith and De Noble[50] examined the effects of FMS on strategy. They found that product specific systems, those dedicated to a few products, constrained business strategy. The development of FMS allowed greater scope in the development of strategy, because the systems are less product specific. Schroeder et al .[51] developed a theory of the manufacturing strategy process. Manufacturing strategy process was defined as the formulation of long-term manufacturing strategy which is linked to business strategy coupled with extensive communication and use of manufacturing strategy as a guide to decision making. Strategy strength, communication of strategy, co-ordination of decision making, formality of the planning process, and longrange orientation were found to be related to manufacturing performance. Summary In conclusion, the empirical research in manufacturing strategy appears to be gaining momentum. Manufacturing strategy scholars are learning to use the empirical methods that have been developed in other related academic disciplines, and are slowly building the foundations for higher-quality theory building. This in turn should lead to more sophisticated empirical research studies. It is hoped that this review of the literature will accelerate the momentum that is now present among empirical manufacturing strategy researchers.
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