اثر سادگی و انضباط روی انعطاف پذیری عملیاتی: بازنگری تجربی مدل انعطاف پذیری محکم
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|5191||2006||16 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Operations Management, Volume 24, Issue 6, December 2006, Pages 932–947
This study empirically tests the rigid flexibility model proposed by Collins and Schmenner [Collins, R.S., Schmenner, R.W., 1993. Achieving rigid flexibility: factory focus for the 1990s. European Management Journal 11 (4), 443–447]. It investigates relationships between flexibility performance and adoption of simplicity and discipline programs in manufacturing. The research replicates the study by Collins et al. [Collins, R.S., Cordon, C., Julien, D., 1998. An empirical test of the rigid flexibility model. Journal of Operations Management 16 (2–3), 133–146] with some modifications, including the use of a broader international database, the assessment of both technology and organizational programs, and the testing of the moderating role of dedicated line layout on the relationships between simplicity, discipline and flexibility. Analysis of data from 285 manufacturers of fabricated metal products, machinery, and equipment from 14 countries indicates that simplicity and discipline related positively to performance in product customization, volume flexibility, mix flexibility, and time to market, and that some of these relationships were more positive in high volume processes than in low volume processes. The results provide empirical validation to the rigid flexibility model in an international manufacturing context.
Building flexibility to respond quickly to changing market needs has been regarded as one of the major challenges in operations management over recent years (Bordoloi et al., 1999 and Barnes-Schuster et al., 2002). Industrial markets have been increasingly subject to frequent changes regarding product variety and demand volumes (Bayus and Putsis, 1999 and Jack and Raturi, 2002). In most cases, however, customers do not accept paying higher prices or waiting longer for products fitting to new demands. For many operations, the challenge is how to build flexibility at no expense to cost, quality, or delivery performance (Boynton et al., 1993 and Suarez et al., 1996). Over the last decade, a great deal of research has aimed at tackling such flexibility challenge (De Toni and Tonchia, 1998). Most authors focused on either exploring the relationship between flexibility and performance, or building conceptual typologies or taxonomies (Narasimhan and Das, 1999). However, few studies focused on the links between flexibility and operations improvements. Among those, Collins and Schmenner's (1993) rigid flexibility model appears to provide one of the most consistent answers to producers squeezed by market volatility. The rigid flexibility model suggested that flexibility competence could be developed by building simplicity and discipline in manufacturing. Simplicity was about streamlining information and materials flow processes. Discipline was about carrying out procedures in dedicated and consistent fashion. Both simplicity and discipline would result from improvements in several areas including information and process technology, labor development, product design, and process configuration. The model's premise was somewhat paradoxical, as flexibility would result not from building capacity or inventory buffers [as suggested by several studies in operations and supply chain management, e.g. Fisher, 1997, Huang et al., 2002 and Jack and Raturi, 2002] or from allowing improvisation in manufacturing. Instead, flexibility would result from rigid processes that consistently and diligently pursued strategic tasks: “… if the requirement is flexibility, then an atmosphere of permissiveness cannot be tolerated” (Collins and Schmenner, 1993, p. 444). Simplicity, rather than reducing the number of options available to the firm, should provide a streamlined process that was easier to reconfigure and adapt to changing requirements. Discipline, rather than stiffening procedures and skills, should promote the best practices and work methods that enabled the firm to respond to market changes. Despite the model's appeal and influence in the operations strategy field [providing foundations for studies on trade-offs and the world-class paradigm, e.g. Noble, 1995, Flynn and Flynn, 1999 and Beach et al., 2000], there has been surprisingly limited research to validate its propositions. So far, only Collins et al. (1998) appear to have developed an empirical test. They provided evidence to relationships between simplicity/discipline and flexibility in manufacturers from the five western European countries of Britain, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Finland. No study appears to have tested the model by using a broader geographical base, cross-examining different process types, or assessing the role of the manufacturing and information technologies that today appear critical to flexibility performance. Thus, while Collins et al. (1998) provided a valuable contribution in validating the model in a specific context, more research is needed to assess its applicability in a broader framework. This study addresses that research requirement. It searches for evidence to the rigid flexibility model through using a broad international database, building scales for simplicity and discipline that incorporate both technology and organizational approaches, and exploring relationships in high and low volume processes. Furthermore, the analysis focuses on core flexibility dimensions including product customization, volume flexibility, mix flexibility, and time to market. The study uses data on the flexibility performance and improvement programs of 285 manufacturers of fabricated metal products, machinery, and equipment from 14 countries. The research aims to replicate the study by Collins et al. (1998), while incorporating some modifications to provide further knowledge about the model's applicability in different contexts.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The study tested the rigid flexibility model proposed by Collins and Schmenner (1993). Regression analysis was used to assess relationships between simplicity/discipline and flexibility performance. The analysis indicated that simplicity and discipline were positively associated to flexibility improvements, and that the use of dedicated lines moderated some of those relationships. The results provide further empirical validation to the rigid flexibility model. Moreover, they indicate that simplicity and discipline may yield greater benefits in high volume processes than in low volume processes. This appears to be the second study ever to test the rigid flexibility model. Compared to the pioneer research by Collins et al. (1998), this study introduced some innovations to explore further the model's validity and generalizability in manufacturing. The dependent variables incorporated performance measures with direct representation to the main flexibility dimensions developed in the literature. Data included manufacturers from 14 countries. Finally, simplicity and discipline scales incorporated items focused not only on organizational improvements but also on the information and process technologies that today appear critical to flexibility. At least three major limitations may be associated to this study. First, while the simplicity and discipline constructs involved a large variety of action programs, the flexibility construct was limited to ‘aggregated’ flexibility types; however, studies such as Browne et al. (1984) stressed the role of ‘individual resource’ dimensions such as machine and labor flexibility in manufacturing. The study approach can be justified by the rationale in Slack (1987) and Sethi and Sethi (1990) that low-level flexibility dimensions are embedded in high-level dimensions. Second, data were obtained from an existing database rather than a study-focused survey. Using the IMSS database can be justified by the gains in sample reliability and scale it promotes. Third, data was limited to manufacturers of fabricated metal products, machinery, and equipment. Focus on a single industry is known to maximize validity but limit the generalizability of research findings (Ketchen et al., 1993). This study has practical implications deriving from the original model and the research findings. Studies such as Swamidass and Newell (1987), Fiegenbaum and Karnani (1991), and Narasimhan and Das (1999) provided evidence that flexibility improvements often translate into operational and financial performance. What this study suggests is that such flexibility improvements, especially in high volume processes, can be anchored in simplicity and discipline in operations. Alternative approaches such as building inventory cushions and buffer capacity may bring in more flexibility for the short term but, except for companies producing the highest levels of variety, they may also increase cost and complexity to a point that will cripple the organization's performance in the long term. The study also suggests that simplicity and discipline may incorporate simultaneous improvements in technology and work methods, which reinforces the merits of using a sociotechnical approach to operations investments. Hence, this study has some implications for further research, the first of which concerns the opportunity to explore the merits of a sociotechnical, joint optimization approach to operations design and improvement. As discussed in the previous section [and reinforced in studies such as Moldaschl and Weber, 1998 and Hummels and de Leede, 2000], the sociotechnical approach appears to provide as many answers as challenges to business management. Despite its clear implications to research and practice, operations management studies still appear to lag other disciplines in this issue. Second, results indicated that the rigid flexibility model might support improvements in mix flexibility and time to market in both high volume and low volume processes. However, only high volume processes appeared to benefit in terms of product customization and volume flexibility. Therefore, further research is needed to assess the drivers of product customization and volume flexibility in low volume processes.