دانش کاربردی مشتری در یک محیط تولید: انعطاف پذیری برای شرکت های صنعتی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|10714||2005||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 34, Issue 6, August 2005, Pages 629–640
Dynamic business markets are forcing B2B marketers to create flexibility in their firms. The present study investigates: (1) made-to-stock (MTS) versus made-to-order (MTO, which is considered more flexible); (2) production technology routineness (with nonroutine considered more flexible); and (3) a marketing-based enabler of flexibility, i.e., applied customer knowledge. SEM analysis shows that applied customer knowledge completely mediates the relationships of both MTO and routineness with financial performance. This delineates two routes to financial performance, beginning with manufacturing-based flexibility constructs and operating through marketing-based applied knowledge. In addition, exploratory analysis of a subsample confirmed empirically that the financial success of mass customization depends on extensive customer knowledge application and low finished goods inventory levels. Managerial implications are discussed, along with ideas for future research.
Business-to-business markets (B2B) have become turbulent, even volatile in today's environment. Shortened product life cycles, increased product variety and customization, and escalating customer requirements mean that managers are forced to be alert, learn quickly, and transform ideas promptly into action (Gerwin, 1987 and van Hoek, 2001). Windows of opportunity are narrower and more mutable. To deal with dynamic marketing environments, firms must adopt methods of creating strategic and operational flexibility (Gerwin, 1987 and Gerwin, 1993). Flexibility pursued as a competitive priority can create a sustainable competitive advantage (DeToni & Tonchia, 1998 and Narain et al., 2000). Flexibility in response to demand fluctuations can be key to fending off competition (Yusuf, Adelye, & Sivayoganathan, 2003). Marketing-based flexibility is designed to cope with dynamic market change (Narain et al., 2000). One approach to marketing-based flexibility is to utilize customer knowledge. Knowledge is the understanding of some phenomenon, created and organized by the flow of information (Nonaka, 1994). “Applied customer knowledge” refers to creating new knowledge based on information from customers, disseminating it, and embodying knowledge in new technologies or products (Nonaka, 1991). Applied customer knowledge is different from marketing orientation. A marketing orientation is an organizational culture and structure that creates the necessary behaviors to attain creation of superior value for buyers: it includes generation and dissemination, as well as responsiveness to marketing intelligence (Kohli & Jaworski, 1990 and Narver & Slater, 1990). Applied customer knowledge is concerned with creating intangible, knowledge-based assets that are indispensable sources of competitive advantage (Grant, 1996 and Teece, 1998). Our focus is on applied customer knowledge about product quality levels, design of products, production plans, and production costs. Flexibility research is driven by market dynamism, but occurs within a context of a supply chain and in relation to manufacturing strategies (van Hoek, 2001). Manufacturing strategies can range from completely make-to-stock (MTS) to completely make-to-order (MTO). MTS products are based on forecasts of overall customer demand while MTO waits until customer orders are received. Generally, MTO strategies are considered more flexible. We also consider routineness of production technology (e.g., batch versus mass production): more routine production is often viewed as less flexible. We argue that MTO and routineness are independent constructs that do not necessarily follow one from the other. We hypothesize that MTO and routineness have independent effects on applied customer knowledge as well as on finished goods inventory levels. In turn, applied customer knowledge (an enabler of marketing-based flexibility) and finished goods inventory levels influence financial performance. The resource-based view of the firm argues that differences in performance are attributable to differences in the organizational resources that firms possess, such as knowledge-based assets (Grant, 1991). Performance differences exist between firms because of asymmetries in knowledge (Kogut & Zander, 1992). The theory suggests that rather than direct effects, manufacturing strategy and production technology indirectly influence performance through applied customer knowledge—a knowledge-based asset that firms may possess. The general research question we address is whether applied customer knowledge mediates the relationship between manufacturing strategy and financial performance. Fig. 1 displays our conceptual model.We also introduce an exploratory component to the research. In today's dynamic markets there is often a need for the simultaneous manufacture of small and large volumes, as well as an ability to shift between producing for mass and niche markets. To remain competitive, a firm should be able to simultaneously manufacture both low and high batch using either MTO or MTS strategies without significant changes in the unit cost of manufacture (Yusuf et al., 2003). The study of various combinations of MTO/MTS strategies and production routineness may provide information on different “routes” to performance. In particular, we focus on the mass customization case (characterized by MTO and routine production) and examine the effects of applied customer knowledge and finished goods inventory levels on financial performance in this important subgroup. From a marketing perspective, it is important to understand how marketing-based flexibility (e.g., applied customer knowledge) can positively influence performance in this context. The paper begins with definitions of the main constructs, followed by the arguments supporting the model hypotheses. After presentation of the main results, selected subgroups are scrutinized. Managerial implications and directions for further research conclude the paper.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Flexibility is a combination of physical characteristics, operating policies, and managerial practices. Marketing-based flexibility refers to the use of these factors to cope with market change. In the study, we investigated applied customer knowledge, which enables marketing-based flexibility. Four items were used to measure applied customer knowledge—information from customers about their production plans; information from customers about production costs; information from customers about product quality levels; and co-design of products with customers. Acquiring and applying customer knowledge at the design stage (product quality levels; product co-design) and at the production stage (production plans; production costs) enables marketing-based flexibility and probably requires close relationships with customers. In addition, we investigated two manufacturing-related flexibility constructs: (1) MTS versus MTO manufacturing strategy (the latter traditionally viewed as requiring more flexibility) and (2) nonroutine versus routine production technology (the former traditionally more flexible). The results show that first, both MTO and routineness were positively related to applied customer knowledge. We had argued that marketing-based flexibility demands more applied knowledge; thus the result for MTO was expected but we had originally hypothesized an inverse relationship between routineness and applied customer knowledge. Second, applied customer knowledge was in turn positively related to financial performance, as expected. Third, an MTO strategy was inversely related to finished goods inventory levels. This was expected because MTO products are assembled in response to specific customer orders. However, routineness was unrelated to finished goods inventory levels (contrary to expectations). Finally, the level of finished goods inventory was unrelated to financial performance. It is possible that routineness is positively related (rather than negatively related) to applied customer knowledge because production processes are being designed with customer JIT/TQM requirements in mind. JIT requires accurate demand forecasting and close relationships with customers. This possible confounding effect may particularly hold true in our model because our measures of applied customer knowledge focus on customer input to production and product design. These same customer inputs may also be requirements for setting up JIT relationships. A focus on time-based competition might also explain why routineness was unrelated to finished goods inventory levels, at least for the sample as a whole: one goal of JIT is to minimize finished goods inventory levels. We have no way of evaluating MTO versus routineness versus JIT effects, however. The lack of support in the sample as a whole for the hypothesized relationship between finished goods inventory and financial performance may also be related to time-based competition. It was hypothesized that finished goods inventory levels are inversely related to financial performance. While this relationship was not supported for the sample as a whole, it was supported in the subsample analyses. Specifically, the inverse relationship between finished goods inventory levels and financial performance was found for mass/MTO producers. These manufacturers keep their finished goods inventory levels low because they rely on production processes that produce on customer orders rather than on forecasted customer demand. Batch/MTS producers, on the other hand, manufacture on overall forecasted demand. It is also possible that the influence of finished goods inventory level on financial performance is dependent on the role a manufacturer plays in a supply chain (e.g., contract manufacturer; original equipment manufacturer (OEM); assembler). For example, if a firm is a supplier to Dell, its finished goods inventory level might fluctuate based on Dell's demand. This manufacturing firm can have strong financial performance because of customer loyalty attributable to a high degree of customer service (i.e., no stock outs); however, finished goods inventory and financial performance are unrelated.