مشارکت عرضه کننده و تولید انعطاف پذیر
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Technovation, Volume 26, Issue 10, October 2006, Pages 1136–1146
Supplier involvement is touted as enhancing a firm's competitive edge, but its linkage with specific dimensions of manufacturing flexibility (e.g., volume flexibility) has not been established. This study investigates the relationship between supplier involvement, manufacturing flexibility, and business performance in the motherboard industry. Using data collected from 105 manufacturing firms, we first verified the effect of manufacturing flexibility on business performance. A field study was then conducted to benchmark various supplier involvement practices in the motherboard industry and to decipher the impact of supplier involvement on different dimensions of manufacturing flexibility. Our findings indicate that supplier involvement plays a major role in the development and performance of a firm's manufacturing flexibility. More importantly, we found specific associations between various supplier involvement activities and different dimensions of manufacturing flexibility. Not all supplier activities contribute equally to the development of different types of manufacturing flexibility, and manufacturing flexibility should be integrated with supply chain management. Finally, research propositions are presented and several managerial implications are discussed.
There has been substantial research in the area of manufacturing flexibility over the last two decades as evidenced by the number of related publications (e.g., see the following articles that reviewed those publications: Beach et al., 2000; De Toni and Tonchia, 1998; Gerwin, 1993; Sethi and Sethi, 1990; Vokurka and O’Leary-Kelly, 2000). Manufacturing flexibility is one of the more important and most studied research issues in the field of operations management. While there are many aspects of manufacturing flexibility (e.g., measurement, performance, and moderating variables) to be investigated, this study extends the knowledge of manufacturing flexibility regarding its integration with supply chain activities. Supplier involvement and collaboration has been touted as necessary to improve supply chain effectiveness and a firm's competitiveness. In practice, supplier involvement includes a wide range of collaboration activities such as just-in-time delivery, quality improvement, new product design, green purchasing and so on (Krause, 1997). We have learned from industry that those collaboration activities could improve firms’ responsiveness to market demands. For instance, Li & Fung, a Hong-Kong fashion retailer, speeds up new product development time and reduces manufacturing cycle time by participating in its buyers’ product design process and pre-reserving factory capacity from suppliers (Magretta, 1998). Clearly, supplier involvement can be an important source of developing manufacturing flexibility, and previous studies have acknowledged the effect of supplier involvement (Narasimhan and Das, 1999). Missing from the literature, however, is knowledge of how these two strategic components, supplier involvement and manufacturing flexibility, can be integrated and, how such integration affects the performance of manufacturing flexibility. The premise of this study is that both supplier involvement and manufacturing flexibility are multi-dimensional concepts; managers must understand how various supplier activities correspond to different dimensions of manufacturing flexibility. This knowledge enables firms to align their supply chain efforts with their manufacturing flexibility programs. We chose to study this issue using data collected from the motherboard industry due to the strategic implication of manufacturing flexibility and traditionally close manufacturer–supplier collaboration in this industry. We first reviewed the relevant literature including performance of manufacturing flexibility and the effects of supplier involvement. Three types of flexibility (new product, product mix, and volume) considered to be critical to competitiveness in the motherboard industry were studied. Next, we performed a survey study to test the performance of these three types of manufacturing flexibility. A field study was then conducted to explain the statistical results and to explore the effect of supplier involvement in the development and performance of manufacturing flexibility. Related research propositions and managerial implications are presented.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Upton (1995) estimated that 40% of flexibility improvement efforts are unsuccessful, and claimed that one of the major causes of poor performance is inability to identify “which factors most affected it (flexibility)” (p. 77). As supply chain management continues to evolve with the aid of more advanced information technology, the effect of supplier involvement on manufacturing flexibility could increase. This study investigates the relationship between supplier involvement, manufacturing flexibility, and business performance. Using data collected from 105 firms, we verified the impact of manufacturing flexibility on business performance in the motherboard industry. We then conducted a field study to specify the relationships among various supplier involvement activities, dimensions of manufacturing flexibility, and business performance. An important finding is that manufacturing flexibility development should be integrated with supply chain management. In other words, flexibility cannot be brought about by simply installing computer-integrated systems. Instead, manufacturing flexibility needs to be planned, managed, and integrated with a firm's supply chain management. Firms must deploy resources to align the development of both programs. Note that several researchers also acknowledged the effects of supply chain activities on manufacturing flexibility (Narasimhan et al., 2004; Suarez et al., 1996). Our findings extend the understanding of this research issue by identifying specific associations between supplier involvement and different types of flexibility. There is evidence to support the incorporation of supply chain activities in manufacturing flexibility research, and the two suggested research propositions could serve as good starting points for future research. Our findings also suggest the following managerial implications and research issues. (1) The strategy of developing manufacturing flexibility requires constant review and adjustment. Past research discusses various avenues available for developing manufacturing flexibility. The underlying assumption is that selected actions will stay effective over time regardless of any environmental and economic changes (Jack and Raturi, 2002). This study finds that, over a period of years, overtime and outsourcing used to be applied to develop volume flexibility in the motherboard industry. As economic conditions changed, this strategy became more costly and resulted in a decrease in net profits. Additionally, our field study indicates that most motherboard manufacturers have not taken the advantage of emerging information technology to enhance collaboration with their suppliers for improving their manufacturing flexibility. It is critical to monitor the dynamic nature of flexibility development. Specifically, as the environment, information technology, or economic conditions change, the original strategy for developing flexibility may become obsolete and require revisions. (2) Supplier involvement could affect the relationships between types of manufacturing flexibility. Little is known about the interrelationships among the various flexibility types and the trade-offs (Koste and Malhotra, 2000). This knowledge is important if an enterprise's manufacturing flexibility is to be aligned with the environmental conditions in which it operates. Our results indicate that supplier involvement could offer a basis for analyzing such interactions. For instance, many supplier activities (e.g., assisting in software development) listed in Table 5 affect both new product flexibility and product mix flexibility. The significant association between the two types of flexibility is likely the consequence of close collaboration with suppliers, especially chipset manufacturers. This observation reinforces the need to take an integrated view of those two strategic programs. (3) The performance of manufacturing flexibility is industry dependent. Several researchers have suggested the measurement and performance of manufacturing flexibility could vary from industry to industry (Chang et al., 2002; Pagell and Krause, 1999). Some of our statistical results are inconsistent with previous studies, and we believe that either industry or supplier involvement could be the intervening variable that accounts for such inconsistency. For example, developing new products in the motherboard industry is primarily triggered by new computer chip design. New product flexibility serves the function of “order qualifier”—meets the market requirement but gains no additional competitive edge from the aspect of sales growth. New product flexibility does not significantly increase sales in the motherboard industry as claimed by other studies (e.g., Lieberman and Montgomery, 1988; Suarez et al., 1996). Furthermore, the motherboard industry has rather intensive manufacturer–supplier collaboration due to the active participation of chipset suppliers. Whether or not the findings of this study hold true in a different industry, where there is not such strong supplier participation, remains to be examined. There are a few other limitations in this study and the results must be interpreted cautiously. This study is primarily exploratory in nature. While we have carefully selected two motherboard manufacturers for benchmarking and consulted with two experienced industry experts, the information and analyses must be verified on a larger scale. Another limitation of this study is related to the measures of manufacturing flexibility. The use of single item indicators for the manufacturing flexibility measure could limit the generalizability of the statistical results, although there is no one right way to combine multiple indicators underlying a multidimensional concept (Flynn et al., 1999; Koste et al., 2004; Noble, 1995). On the other hand, there are researchers who advocate the use of single item indicators for better efficiency in social science studies (e.g., Drolet and Morrison, 2001). In any case, our findings clearly indicate the need for further study of the integration of manufacturing flexibility and supplier involvement.