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A longitudinal study of Swedish manufacturing: eight short cases

Mats Winroth (Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 27 April 2012




The purpose of this paper is to study the status of Swedish manufacturing industry and compare with the status of 30 years ago.


The author conducted a series of semi‐structured interviews with follow‐up questions, transcribed and sent back to the companies for approval.


It was found that all eight factories are still running, although one is to be switched to another owner and other types of production. Another company faces severe financial problems and it is questionable if it will survive. All but two of the companies.

Research limitations/implications

The study was made at factory and production systems level, thus no studies were made at the group level. Sometimes it was hard to determine the financial key performance indicators (KPIs) for the factory, since they were kept secret.

Practical implications

Most companies have worked hard on lean production and it can be seen that this has had a considerable impact on their routines. Even when companies change owners and go global, it is possible to keep the tradition of the companies and to keep the core products and processes at factory level.

Social implications

The companies are consistent at keeping their skilled employees, but the traditional “Swedish model” in work organisation, which emphasises cross‐functional teams and self‐managing groups, has been abandoned.


The research described in the paper is valuable since it was possible to re‐do a study made 30 years ago at the same factories. The focus of the follow‐up study was the same, but extended with additional issues such as globalisation and sustainability.



Winroth, M. (2012), "A longitudinal study of Swedish manufacturing: eight short cases", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 535-542.



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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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