The operational outcomes of form postponement (FP) have been increasingly investigated in the last two decades under the effects of escalating product variety and diffusion of mass customisation strategies. However, conflicting or hard‐to‐relate findings are quite frequent in the literature, so that a unifying framework for operations decision making is still lacking. The purpose of this paper is to develop a typological theory that reconciles into a coherent picture extant research on FP effects on operational performance.
The paper defines three mutually exclusive and exhaustive types of FP at the company level of analysis. Then, it revisits, through the lens of this typology, the literature on FP and formalizes how, why and under which assumptions each FP type affects operational performance.
The paper demonstrates that, to predict and explain FP effects on operational performance, three types of FP should be distinguished. In fact, it is shown that either these FP types have different effects on a given performance dimension, or they have the same effect but the logical justification for this effect is often different according to the FP type being considered.
The paper's synopsis of past research accomplishments indicates that future work will have to investigate the operational implications of a specific FP type almost ignored in the literature, as well as test the relationships hypothesized in the literature. Further opportunities for future research include extending the level of analysis beyond the boundaries of the company and linking the paper's FP typology to the operations strategy discourse.
The lack of understanding of the benefits and costs of FP has been found to be a major obstacle to FP implementation. The paper's typological theory supports managerial decision making by clarifying what FP alternatives companies have and what are the operational implications for each of these alternatives.
The paper's typological theory reconciles apparently conflicting findings in the literature by explaining such differences in terms of differences in the FP type being investigated. Additionally, the typology helps avoid a twofold risk: on the one hand, the risk of generalizing an effect or mechanism that only applies to a specific FP type and, on the other hand, the risk of failing to detect type‐specific effects or mechanisms.
Forza, C., Salvador, F. and Trentin, A. (2008), "Form postponement effects on operational performance: a typological theory", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 28 No. 11, pp. 1067-1094. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443570810910197Download as .RIS
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