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Mass customization: conceptual underpinnings, opportunities and limits

Christopher W.L. Hart (Spire Group, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

International Journal of Service Industry Management

ISSN: 0956-4233

Article publication date: 1 May 1995



Traditionally, executives have assumed that trade‐offs – high quality or low cost, efficiency or customization – are inevitable. In defining their businesses, the choice has always been seen in terms of mass production of inexpensive, commodity‐like products or services (the assembly line) on the one hand, and on the other hand, premium‐priced, individually‐tailored, highly differentiated offerings (the “job shop”). But the notion that such trade‐offs and choices are permanent, inevitable business realities is fading as a new management paradigm – mass customization – emerges. Mass customization consists of cutting‐edge management methods and tools that give companies the ability to produce customized, affordable, high‐quality goods and services, but with the shorter cycle times and lower costs historically associated with mass production and standardization. Proposes that much of the power of mass customization, like total quality management before it, lies in its visionary and strategic implications. Also delineates an exploratory diagnostic framework to help companies assess the potential for mass customization as an explicit strategy in their industries. The key dimensions of this framework are customer sensitivity, process amenability, competitive environment, and organizational readiness.



Hart, C.W.L. (1995), "Mass customization: conceptual underpinnings, opportunities and limits", International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 36-45.




Copyright © 1995, MCB UP Limited

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