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Lean and agile manufacturing: external and internal drivers and performance outcomes
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Production Economics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Production Economics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2009 (English)In: International Journal of Operations & Production Management, ISSN 0144-3577, Vol. 29, no 10, 976-999 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose - Lean and agile manufacturing are two initiatives that are used by manufacturing plant managers to improve operations capabilities. The purpose of this paper is to investigate internal and external factors that drive the choice of lean and agile operations capabilities and their respective impact on operational performance. Design/methodology/approach - Lean and agile manufacturing are each conceptualized as a second-order factor and measured through a bundle of distinct practices. The competitive intensity of industry and the competitive strategy are modeled as potential external and internal drivers, respectively, and the impact on quality, delivery, cost, and flexibility performance is analyzed using structural equations modeling. The model is tested with data from the high performance manufacturing project comprising a total of 211 plants from three industries and seven countries. Findings - The results indicate that lean and agile manufacturing differ in terms of drivers and outcomes. The choice of a cost-leadership strategy fully mediates the impact of the competitive intensity of industry as a driver of lean manufacturing, while agile manufacturing is directly affected by both internal and external drivers, i.e. a differentiation strategy as well as the competitive intensity of industry. Agile manufacturing is found to be negatively associated with a cost-leadership strategy, emphasizing the difference between lean and agile manufacturing. The major differences in performance outcomes are related to cost and flexibility, such that lean manufacturing has a significant impact on cost performance (whereas agile manufacturing has not), and that agile manufacturing has a stronger relationship with volume as well as product mix flexibility than does lean manufacturing. Research limitations/implications - Cross-sectional data from three industries and seven countries are used, and it would be interesting to test this model for more industries and countries. Practical implications - The results provide insights into the factors that influence the choice of lean or agile manufacturing for improving operations, and the results that can be obtained. Originality/value - To the authors knowledge, this is the first large-scale empirical survey of leanness and agility simultaneously, using data from manufacturing firms in Europe, Asia, and North America. The model incorporates a wide perspective on factors related to lean and agile manufacturing, to be able to identify similarities and differences.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2009. Vol. 29, no 10, 976-999 p.
Keyword [en]
Lean production, Agile production, Operations management
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-51776DOI: 10.1108/01443570910993456ISI: 000271206100001OAI: diva2:277383
Available from: 2009-11-18 Created: 2009-11-17 Last updated: 2014-02-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Manufacturing Strategy, Capabilities and Performance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Manufacturing Strategy, Capabilities and Performance
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation addresses the topic of manufacturing strategy, especially the manufacturing capabilities and operational performance of manufacturing plants. Manufacturing strategy research aims at providing a structured decision making approach to improve the economics of manufacturing and to make companies more competitive.

The overall objective of this thesis is to investigate how manufacturing companies make use of different manufacturing practices or bundles of manufacturing practices to develop certain sets of capabilities, with the ultimate goal of supporting the market requirements. The thesis aims to increase the understanding of the role of operations management and its immediate impact on manufacturing performance. Following the overall research objective three areas are identified to be of particular interest; to investigate (i) the relationship among different dimensions of operational performance, (ii) the way different performance dimensions are affected by manufacturing practices or bundles of manufacturing practices, (iii) whether there are contingencies that may help explain the relationships between dimensions of manufacturing capabilities or the effects of manufacturing practices or bundles of manufacturing practices on operational performance.

The empirical elements in this thesis use data from the High Performance Manufacturing (HPM) project. The HPM project is an international study of manufacturing plants involving seven countries and three industries.

The research contributes to several insights to the research area of manufacturing strategy and to practitioners in manufacturing operations. The thesis develops measurements for and tests the effects of several manufacturing practices on operational performance. The results are aimed at providing guidance for decision making in manufacturing companies. The most prominent implication for researchers is the manifestation of the customer order decoupling point as an important contingency variable to consider when studying manufacturing operations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Institutionen för ekonomisk och industriell utveckling, Linköpings universitet, 2007. 33 p.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1108
Manufacturing Strategy, Manufacturing Capabilities, Operational Performance, Empirical Research, Contingency Factors
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-8962 (URN)978-91-85831-72-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-06-08, A1, Hus A, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2007-05-25 Created: 2007-05-25 Last updated: 2013-04-11

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Hallgren, MattiasOlhager, Jan
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