انعطاف پذیری سیستم های تولید، تغییر استراتژیک و عملکرد
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 98, Issue 3, 18 December 2005, Pages 273–289
The past decade has witnessed an increase of interest in flexibility, which bestows on a firm the ability to respond promptly to market opportunities and changing technologies. The development of capabilities to be flexible rests on the mandate of top management, helps firms manage environmental uncertainty, and tends to enhance firm performance. This research paper aims to establish an analytical approximation that considers how the determinants of manufacturing flexibility at the system level affect the desired strategic change in organizations, as well as subsequent performance. We propose the hypotheses that both environmental factors and internal resources affect flexibility, this latter aspect influencing the organization's performance. The problems that stem from measuring manufacturing flexibility in terms of fit were also analyzed. In order to do this, we have made a wide-ranging trans-national study, within the framework of the European Union, using data from 403 European firms. The Structural Equation Model (SEM) technique has been used to contrast the hypotheses. The results show that manufacturing flexibility at system level can be a critical factor in the process of strategic change, which means that it can have an impact on the desirability of strategic change or on the more specific strategic fit.
The study of strategic change has long occupied an important position in the larger field of strategic management. Strategic change has been recognized as an important phenomenon because it represents the means through which organizations maintain coalignment with shifting competitive, technological, and social environments which occasionally pose threats to their continued survival and effectiveness (Kraatz and Zajac, 2001). The emergence of new global competitors, the convergence of high-technology industries and the increasing speed and cost of technological development promise an increasingly uncertain environment for organizations (Hagedoorn and Schakenraad, 1994). This may be particularly true in fast-paced industries or hypercompetitive environments characterized by rapid technological change, shortened product life cycles, increasing competitive rivalry, and global competition (Upton, 1994; Volberda, 1996). Manufacturing companies often face high-demand volatility, in terms of total volume, product mix and customisation requirements. In order to cope with these changes in the manufacturing environment, the company would need to possess some degrees of flexibility in order to stay competitive and profitable. Flexibility can be seen as a fundamental property of the manufacturing system (Grubbström and Olhager, 1997). Thus, it is a complementary property to productivity, and the prevailing opinion today is that companies need to be both productive and flexible, and that there must be no trade-off between the two (Bengtsson and Olhager, 2002). The development of capabilities to be flexible rests on the mandate of top management, helps firms manage environmental uncertainty, and tends to enhance firm performance (Evans, 1991). Many organizations have found that it is almost impossible to address these competitive forces without some major internal and external structural adjustments that provide greater flexibility (Young-Ybarra and Wierseman, 1999). The literature lends its attention increasingly more to the factors that act as obstacles to strategic change (Amburgey et al., 1993; Rajagopalan and Spreitzer, 1997; Zajac and Kraatz, 1993; Kraatz and Zajac, 2001). However, little attention is paid to the role manufacturing flexibility plays. Zajac et al. (2000) offer an approximation to strategic change in which the comparison of actual and necessary strategic change determines the degree of dynamic strategic fit, which should then influence subsequent performance. At the same time, they give a set of organizational factors that theoretically should define strategic fit. Organizational resources and competences can act as critical factors for organizations that are contemplating strategic change. This study analyzes the influence manufacturing flexibility has as a critical factor. Most research on manufacturing flexibility contributes to the theory, but the very few empirical works published use flexibility or adaptation indices that measure the number of times firms have changed, modified or adopted different components or conducts. The fit between the level of actual flexibility and that required by the environment (the manufacturing flexibility gap) is not analyzed as an explanatory variable of performance. Thus, a situation can arise in which a firm's flexibility does not reach the required level, though the number of changes is high. In this case, the fit is deficient and flexibility management inefficient. In other cases it may be that a firm's flexibility exceeds the demands of the sector, which can exert a negative influence on the costs it has to bear. From our point of view, manufacturing flexibility can influence the desirability of strategic change or the more specific strategic fit. This paper, firstly, proposes to develop an analytical approximation that considers how the determinants and antecedents of manufacturing flexibility condition the change desired by the organizations’ CEOs, as well as subsequent firm performance. Secondly, we attempt to analyze the problems involved in measuring flexibility in terms of fit. In the sections that follow, we, first of all, briefly review the past conceptual work on manufacturing flexibility and strategic change, as well as the problems surrounding its measurement. We then describe the sample and methodology of a field study that provides an initial test of our hypotheses. Finally, we present and discuss the finding and suggest implications for both future research and practice.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This major finding provides some theoretical and managerial insights into understanding the factors that determine an organization's degree of manufacturing flexibility and which end up making strategic changes easier or more difficult. Firstly, financial resource endowments have a significant influence on achieving strategic change, through its impact on manufacturing flexibility. The strategic fit is related to the organization's capacity to redesign itself and adapt to the environmental requirements from a financial viewpoint. Without an optimal flexible capital structure that guarantees the adequate financing of the changes, the fit of the flexibility level is impossible, regardless of whether the capability to learn and assimilate the changes is high. We also suggest that a greater manufacturing flexibility can be explained by a greater endowment of financial resources, and by a more flexible managing of said resources. Second, the concept of learning contributes to explaining the process of change of strategic orientation. This study addresses the idea that a greater level of organizational metaflexibility leads to a better fit of the manufacturing flexibility level. Flexibility is a form of meta-control aimed at increasing the capacity to respond to environmental turbulence. This control potential is based on a learning system that is capable of assimilating the magnitude of the changes by rolling out the adequate corrective actions. In contrast with the hypothesis developed, metaflexibility has a negative effect on performance. The propensity to explore or to exploit the resources can explain this result (March, 1991). Thus, resources assigned to enhance metaflexibility improve the manufacturing flexibility fit. This result can be explained due to the larger range of potential behaviors of organization's components (Huber, 1991). Nevertheless, this learning does not directly induce a change in the real behavior. Hence, the organization hold up the resource's costs but the member behavior has not changed. Finally, this study documents the fact that manufacturing flexibility can be defined as a permanent characteristic within the organization. For this reason, we have developed a measurement procedure that establishes a gap including the level of fit between actual and required flexibility. This gap enables us to reflect the differences between what CEOs perceive to be their sector's requirements, in terms of environmental demands, and what they actually perceive within their own organization. The CEO is typically portrayed as someone who has primary responsibility for setting strategic directions and plans for the organization, as well as responsibility for guiding actions that will realize those plans. The notion of fit included in this research enables us to carry out cross-sectional studies to measure it. This approximation allows us to check whether the fits between CEO-perceived requirements and the actual practices of their organizations bring about improved performance. This paper provides an analytical approximation that studies how the determinants and antecedents of manufacturing flexibility at system level affect strategic change and its outcomes. Most strategy researchers have, in general, become increasingly concerned with the unique, inimitable, historically accumulated, and heterogeneously distributed resources that differentiate organizations from one another. In fewer cases, research has been done into how resources endowments may impact organizations’ propensity for adaptive strategic change, or affect the outcomes of such change. However, in these research studies on resources and competences, there is a notable lack of discussion or research concentrating on the analysis of role played by manufacturing flexibility. Our study reviews and includes the different studies that suggest that organizational resources and competences can act as critical factors for organizations that are contemplating strategic change. After overviewing the literature, we suggest that manufacturing flexibility may be a critical factor within the strategic change process, which means it may have an impact on the desirability of strategic change or on the more specific strategic fit. In the same way, we analyze the problems posed by measuring flexibility in terms of fit. We also conducted an empirical study that concentrated on three industrial sectors within the framework of the European Union. This study has various limitations. The cross-sectional nature of the research should be complemented by longitudinal studies. The fit-based approximation to measure flexibility has softened this limitation. Besides, the items of the questionnaire have been worded in terms of the firm's evolution over the last three years. The study sample is limited to EU Member States, as well as to three specific sectors with a high technological component. Other sectors may give different results. To enhance the generalizability of this study's main results, future research may replicate this study to other industries or use samples from multiple countries to obtain comparative insights. As a conclusion, it was found that a good fit in the manufacturing flexibility level and a high degree of financial resource endowments are related to a greater performance. Likewise, the results revealed to us that reaching an appropriate fit in an organization's level of manufacturing flexibility is conditioned by factors such as its metaflexibility and financial resource endowments. Finally, it was shown that the characteristics defining the business environment have an impact on the level of metaflexibility.