نمایی از الگوهای در حال توسعه سرمایه گذاری در فناوری ساخت و تولید پیشرفته از طریق طبقه بندی تجربی: شواهد جدید
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|13286||2003||30 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Operations Management, Volume 21, Issue 5, December 2003, Pages 577–606
In line with the theoretical premises of the research, the aim of this paper is two-fold: firstly, to determine whether there are different patterns of advanced manufacturing technology (AMT) investment behavior in the Andalusian aeronautical industry that can be associated with different technology strategies, as in other sectors and geographical areas and, secondly, to identify possible similarities or differences from previous research, such as Boyer et al. [J. Operations Manage. 14 (4) (1996) 297–313] and Jonsson [Int. J. Operations Production Manage. 20 (12) (2000) 1446–1474]. A survey of the 20 plants in the population was conducted via postal questionnaire between July 1999 and April 2001, with a structured interview being held at a later date. A cluster analysis was performed which allowed a taxonomy with three groups of plants to be established: traditionalists, designers and investors. These three groups differ from each other with regard to their AMT investments, industrial activity, size and degree of integration. Differences between the groups in company performance cannot be appreciated. Although the results apparently seem to back up most of the findings of previous works biased to larger companies, they do bring certain aspects into question regarding the explanation for the way the groups are formed. The three critical factors which determine AMT investment in the sector are the company’s being of a certain minimum size, undergoing a period of expansion, and type of activity.
There have been various studies (Lefebvre et al., 1992 and Chen, 1996) that demonstrated the inadequacy of Porter’s (1987) basic strategies for dealing with technological strategies and, in particular, advanced manufacturing technology (AMT) investment strategies. An alternative approach is the development of taxonomies that may provide strategic configurations with a discriminatory ability by establishing groups of companies that share a number of common characteristics, attributes or relationships (Boyer et al., 1996 and Jonsson, 2000). In the present study, we first aim to identify a taxonomy defined by the different patterns of investment in AMT followed by companies—mostly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—in a specific industrial sector, located in a pre-determined geographical zone. We shall specifically consider the aeronautical sector in Andalusia, southern Spain,1 for the period July 1999 to April 2001. This leads us on to the second objective of this research, which is to identify any possible similarities and differences from previous studies and the reasons for these. The working hypotheses put forward to explain the reasons why the different groups are formed point in two directions. Firstly, there is the influence that a variety of different factors (activity, size, competitive priorities, and information and catalyst elements) may have on these patterns. Secondly, there are possible differences between groups with respect to the level to which their activities and company performance are integrated. A graphical representation of the theoretical model incorporating these relationships can be found in Fig. 1. There has been scant analysis of the effect had by competitive priorities in previous studies, and we are not aware of any analysis that links information and catalyst elements with levels of AMT investment. The third objective we have therefore set for ourselves is the provision of new data not found in previous works, albeit in an exploratory phase and with no view to generalization. Various factors led us to conclude that conducting an empirical analysis into the Andalusian aeronautical sector was particularly interesting and opportune. Firstly, this sector is strategically important, not only for Andalusian industry, but also for Spain’s and the European Union’s as a whole; secondly, it is extremely technologically-intensive and as such is a potential user of a wide and diverse range of AMT; thirdly, it was an inducement that this sector had not previously been the subject of many specific scientific studies into AMT management. Finally, the companies in the sector are, for the main part, small- and medium-sized, with 40% having a workforce of under 50 employees. We therefore thought our study could contribute to mitigating the lack of research aimed at identifying investment taxonomies for smaller plants; as we shall see, existing work has thus far been highly biased towards larger companies. The Andalusian aeronautical industry includes a number of Construcciones Aeronáuticas S.A. (CASA) manufacturing plants. CASA, the Spanish national aeronautical company, has been a member of the Airbus Consortium since 1971 and of the European Aeronautic, Defense and Space Company (EADS) since its creation in 2000. The sector also includes a number of SME ancillary firms with customers who number not only other Spanish aeronautical companies, such as CASA itself, but also foreign companies, such as Boeing. According to statements made by the President of Boeing Europe, Richard L. James, in 1999, in the Seville area alone there were more than five companies manufacturing no fewer than 3500 different parts for the Boeing 717. It was always considered imperative to include the CASA group factories in the analysis. On the one hand, this was a prime necessity if the whole population were to be studied, and, on the other, it allowed a clear company size distinction to be made. The fact that all the factories belonged to the same group does not distort the results, as CASA was not part of EADS at the time of our study. Furthermore, each of the group’s factories devised its technology strategy independently from the others, not only as far as the choice of equipment is concerned, but also with respect to the equipment evaluation process, even though the final choice was subject to approval by Head Office (as confirmed by the Heads of the Engineering Departments that we consulted). Section 2 reviews literature in order to establish what the possible advantages associated with the use of taxonomies are, as well as to identify the theoretical parameters on the basis of which our hypotheses can be formulated. The hypotheses are set out in Section 3, and in Section 4, they are tested empirically. In Section 5, the results are analyzed and discussed. Finally, in Section 6, conclusions are drawn and possible future lines of research are proposed.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The empirical analysis that was conducted has enabled us to establish a taxonomy of three groups of companies that differ from each other in accordance with their investments in the three different types of AMT, which hints at different technological strategies. Plants in the sector under study have been identified as traditionalists, designers and investors and are also differentiated in size, degree of integration and type of activity. In general, the traditionalists are smaller companies with relatively limited investments in AMT and a low degree of integration, which do not undertake machining work; the designers are also smaller companies but with relatively high investments in design AMT and an intermediate degree of integration, which do undertake machining; the investors are larger plants with the highest levels of investment in all three types of AMT and with a high degree of integration. On the basis of the results, no clear conclusions can be drawn regarding any influence competitive priorities might have on investments, as no clear relationship is discernible. Although this is not the first time that no relationship has been observed between strategy and investments, it is, nevertheless, important if we bear in mind that in previous studies evidence has been found that indicates that a failure to align investment and strategy could be one of the reasons for heavier investment in AMT not being reflected in greater performance (Kotha and Swamidass, 2000). The only clearly significant difference that can be seen is between the designers and the other two groups, and this with respect to the degree of priority given to flexibility as an objective. However, it remains to be determined whether or not this relationship really implies a reorientation of strategy after the acquisition of AMT with the consequent reorientation of the capabilities that these new technologies provide. The opinion that the relationship between corporate strategy and investment in technology is inherently dynamic in both directions has been expressed by several authors in recent years (Schroeder et al., 1995, Clark, 1996 and Banerjee, 2000). It is logical to consider that the exploitation of newly-acquired AMT will generate new capabilities that would require pertinent changes to be made to the company’s previous competitive strategy. In this context, companies lacking AMT would have fewer strategic options and a narrower scope of action; if companies that do acquire AMT do not have a well-defined strategic framework for their business, the options opened up by AMT may go unrecognized. This could lead them to opt for an inefficient course of action, failing to develop the new capabilities available to the greatest extent and failing to take advantage of potential competitive advantages. Despite these considerations, empirical evidence for this relationship is still scant. This is due to the fact that, on the one hand, the idea has only very recently been put forward that the technology employed, as an internal component of an organization, might act to inspire its strategy (Parthasarthy and Sethi, 1992), and, on the other, many companies, particularly the smaller ones, do not deliberately develop any kind of strategic planning, thus making observation of changes in strategy difficult. Furthermore, differences in plant performance found between the groups are, in general terms, minimal, as in other studies (Boyer et al., 1996, Swamidass and Kotha, 1998 and Cagliano and Spina, 2000). This would support the principle of equifinality—the view that for any company, different paths or strategies exist that could lead to identical results. However, it could also be indicative of what has been previously suggested: that a lack of alignment of plant strategy and the type of AMT investment made might lead to the improvement expected from the investment not being fully achieved. The identification of an investors group that is comprised of the three largest plants in the population bears witness to the importance of the size variable for explaining investments in the sector, as has been the case with all previous studies on AMT investment taxonomies, where this relationship is likewise present. The groups that make the heaviest investments are the ones comprised of the biggest companies. Nevertheless, the fact that the smaller plants and companies in the population that was analyzed are spread between different groups suggests that size cannot be the only variable that affects the grouping process. The fact is that when it comes to investing in the sector under analysis, the crucial variables are the size of a plant and the activity it conducts. However, the reason why differences cannot be seen in other studies with respect to activity might be that a large enough variety of activities had not been taken into consideration. Despite the fact that plants in different sectors were considered, they all conducted identical activities. Our analysis has been of a single sector, but we go into the specific activities conducted in detail. Nonetheless, on their own these two factors per se cannot explain all the differences found between the groups. Once a clear difference in competitive priorities has been ruled out, there is one factor that has shown itself to be significant: whether the company is in the process of expansion or not. However, this undoubtedly takes us back indirectly to the question of size. It is true that the population analyzed in this sectoral and regional research study comprises plants conducting their activities exclusively or mainly in the aeronautical sector and in a very specific geographical region. The findings, should be highly explanatory for the population as long as we accept that the data that was collected is accurate as a result of the steps that were taken to prevent certain factors affecting it, such as the degree to which it could be easily understood, and the level of attention or mood of the interviewee. It would not in principle be correct to consider extrapolating the results to any other sample or population and it was never intended for the statistical analysis to be inferred in a general way. On the contrary, it could be said that this contribution relies, rather on the possibility of a logical extrapolation to circumstances where the findings might apply, and researchers can judge whether the particular findings would be valid. However, from the characteristics presented by the groups, it can be stated that the patterns of behavior shown with respect to investments in AMT in the sector are similar to those detected in other sectors and geographical areas; hence, one can have confidence in the consistency of certain patterns beyond geographical and sectoral bounds. With respect to this question, an in-depth study to confirm the existence of a technology strategy that is heavily geared towards design AMTs would seem to be necessary. Such a strategy has previously been identified (Boyer et al., 1996) and clearly re-emerges in this study, although it was not evident in the study carried out by Jonsson (2000). Boyer’s (1999) more recent findings, which suggested that designer and generalist companies follow different development patterns, support the existence of this strategy. In our case, a longitudinal analysis would help shed more light on the evolution of investment patterns in the sector and on other aspects, too, such as whether the benefits of AMT for company performance can be perceived more clearly in the longer term or whether the plants that did not invest in AMT have disappeared or been absorbed; three traditionalist plants had already been bought out by larger Spanish or overseas companies by the end of 2002. There have been considerable changes in the sector since the start of this research. During 2000 and for most of 2001, the excellent prospects for the sector in Andalusia—riding on the back of the buoyant situation of the sector in Europe, with satisfactory growth anticipated, and in the midst of restructuring as a result of the creation of EADS—produced a number of changes in its make-up. Several other companies have opened plants in the region and it was hoped that more would follow, given the advantages offered (including, for example, low manufacturing costs, the availability of skilled labor, the tradition of aeronautical activity in the region, good links with the north of Europe, subsidies from the EU, being classified as a zone 1, and the fact that the CASA final assembly plant is located in Seville). In addition, many companies had considerably increased their workforce and sales in the expectation that there would be a prolonged increase in workload. However, the circumstances surrounding the sector have altered dramatically since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the USA; for this reason, the results of such a longitudinal analysis could similarly be considerably affected. On the other hand, it has not been possible to establish any statistically-significant relationship between the other factors that were considered in the study and the groups that were identified in the population being analyzed. Given the previously-mentioned limitations to the population, however, we are of the opinion that some of these issues are worthy of a more in-depth analysis with more general populations and samples. Finally, there is one other aspect that has arisen out of our research which, although not directly related to the goals of the study, is, in our opinion, of special interest. As has been explained in the methodology, the scales of measurement utilized have been validated in previous studies as being highly reliable, and this has also been corroborated in our study in most cases. Nevertheless, it has also been confirmed that the scales of measurement for strategic operations objectives, again clearly validated in other research, have not been found suitable for our purposes in this study. It is therefore considered that an in-depth analysis to make these scales appropriate for different sectors and their priorities is a topic that merits further investigation.