Considers the improvement initiatives which companies implement in operations, in the areas of design, supply and production (for example, design computerization, linkages with suppliers, JIT, quality improvement, flexible automation, etc.). By means of a survey examines the question of the existence of different paths followed by companies to innovate their operations and obtain better performance levels. Identifies four different paths, which have been labelled pioneers, innovators, followers and discriminators on the basis of the number of initiatives undertaken, an earlier or later start‐up, the sequence of their start‐ups and the level of penetration reached within the plant. Examines the four paths in relation to the characteristics of the business environments in which the companies examined operate and their performance levels.
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