Purpose: To investigate the strategic role of plants, in terms of the type and level of sitecompetence, the relationship with the strategic reason for location, and the impact onoperational performance.
Design/methodology: We use a survey of 103 Swedish manufacturing plants that belong to international manufacturing networks. We analyze patterns within this context to identify potential archetypes of plants with respect to plant roles, based on factor analysis and cluster analysis.
Findings: We find that the areas of site competence can be grouped into three bundles, characterized thematically as production-related, supply chain-related and developmentrelated. The plants fall into three categories: some plants have only production-related competences, some have competences concerning both production and supply chain, and the third group of plants possesses all three bundles of competences.
Research limitations/implications: The results provide empirical evidence that site competences come in bundles in three steps according to themes rather than individually. We find no significant relationship between the level of site competence and the strategic reason for site location.
Practical implications: The results provide insights into how site competence areas are bundled and combined for manufacturing plants, and indicate that higher levels of site competence lead to better performance in cost efficiency, quality, and new product introductions.
Originality/value: We research patterns of site competence at a more detailed level than before, as well as study the impact on performance. The results provide empirical evidence that site competences come in bundles in three steps according to themes rather than individually.