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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 95, Issue 1, 28 January 2005, Pages 27–38
The analysis of trade-offs between competitive priorities is one of the core issues in manufacturing strategy research. However, past studies focused mainly on empirical validation of the trade-off concept. There has been limited research on practical aspects of trade-off management, especially methods for trade-off improvement and the incorporation of trade-off analysis into manufacturing strategy formulation. This study presents a heuristic method for the improvement of manufacturing trade-offs. The method incorporates the concepts of dynamic trade-offs and improvement trajectories into a decision-making process. An example of implementation is given, based on the case of a British manufacturer.
The analysis of trade-offs between competitive priorities is one of the core issues in manufacturing strategy research (Skinner, 1992). The traditional trade-off paradigm indicates that raising one aspect of performance imply reductions in some other aspect (Slack, 1997, p. 227). Therefore, companies must prioritize their competitive objectives and devote resources to improve performance in the main objectives (Boyer and Lewis, 2002). Over recent years, research on manufacturing trade-offs has mainly focused on empirical validation of the concept. Several studies performed correlation analyses of competitive priorities in manufacturing companies to determine whether trade-offs such as cost versus quality and speed versus flexibility were real (Boyer and Lewis, 2002; Filippini et al., 1995; Schroeder et al., 1996; Mapes et al., 1997). Despite having different results, they produced relevant knowledge on the nature and impact of trade-offs in manufacturing. However, there has been considerably less effort to develop knowledge on practical aspects of trade-off management such as how to improve trade-offs and how to incorporate trade-off analysis into the manufacturing strategy process. This study attempts at filling that research gap through providing a heuristic method to improve trade-offs in manufacturing. The method departs with research suggesting that trade-offs are dynamic and contingent on manufacturing strategy and structure (Hayes and Pisano, 1996; Schmenner and Swink, 1998). A dynamic perspective implies that trade-offs exist in manufacturing but can be changed by managerial action. A contingent perspective suggests that different trade-offs affect different operations, depending on aspects such as competitive priorities, technology choices, and capabilities.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study proposed a heuristic method for the improvement of manufacturing trade-offs. The method incorporated new theory suggesting that trade-offs are dynamic, contingent on manufacturing strategy and structure, and subject to continuous improvements. The case example illustrated the method ability to build an improvement trajectory to manage trade-offs. The study attempts at filling a research gap regarding the availability of methods to improve trade-offs. Despite recent advancements in conceptual and empirical research on trade-offs, there is a lack of effort to translate new theoretical developments into practical knowledge. Existing trade-off models are mostly based on MCDA techniques such as goal programming, AHP, and scoring models that focus on optimization rather than improvement of trade-offs. MCDA methods are especially useful when trade-offs between criteria cannot be influenced by the decision-maker. For example, facility location alternatives are often determined by economic and social factors, which are mostly independent from management action. However, the nature of trade-offs in operations organizational design may be often influenced by managerial action. Therefore, the method proposed in this paper can be seem as a complement to MCDA methods as it addresses the improvement rather than optimization of trade-offs that may be subject to management control. The method provides three major contributions to operations management practice. First, it defines plans to improve trade-offs rather than individual priorities. A focus on trade-offs may yield improvement trajectories that are more effective and sustainable. Incorporation of such heuristic into the manufacturing strategy process may help to identify the actual hurdles to improved competitiveness. Second, the method may be a useful device for enhancing communication about trade-offs—a concept that is often difficult to share in organizations. It aims to provide a link between manufacturing strategy, trade-off analysis, and improvement plans. Finally, the method may contribute to further knowledge about performance gaps and the areas for urgent improvement in operations. From a research perspective, the main implication of this study is the initiative to develop a method for trade-off management that is simultaneously reliable and useful. Building bridges between theory and practice is one of the major objectives in engineering and management research. This study is an original attempt to build such a bridge in manufacturing trade-off research. Further research could focus on enhancing specific aspects of the method. First, there is an opportunity to develop better procedures to schedule improvement initiatives on trajectories. This procedure involved a qualitative, opinion-based method to assess the payoffs of initiatives. Further research could develop methods to estimate path-dependence payoffs and, more broadly, to tackle the problem of trajectory scheduling using other decision-analytic tools. For example, influence diagrams could be used to represent large problems (e.g. involving a greater variety of improvement initiatives) that are not easily represented by decision trees (Clemen and Reilly, 2001, p. 76). Second, there is an opportunity to devise an importance–performance analysis method focused specifically on trade-offs rather than individual priorities. Such a method could simplify the algorithm by integrating steps 1 and 2, thereby enabling the direct identification of target trade-offs and corresponding improvement approaches. This method constitutes an innovative approach to research on manufacturing trade-offs. Past studies focused mainly on validation of the concept, with limited consideration of practical aspects of trade-off management. This study provides a method to facilitate organizational communication about the role of competitive priorities, the nature of trade-offs, and the impact of different initiatives on a long-term improvement trajectory. This is an original perspective to research on trade-offs, which could be substantiated by future studies.