The purpose of this paper is to provide a description of a mass customization (MC) system based on the findings of a medium size manufacturing company in Estonia. The MC system is developed in order to satisfy its customers' individual needs with customized products on a mass basis. Specific challenges for a former mass producer to achieve the flexibility demanded by today's market are also addressed.
The theoretical background draws from the literature of MC strategies, operational modes, and key capabilities – which is brought together through an in‐depth case study that allows for the extension to three complementing theories. Primary and secondary data about the company practices are extensively used to ensure the validity of results.
In contrast to the extant literature, it is found that the company's success comes from the use of several MC strategies at the same time, rather than just one. This leads to the proposition that the decision for determining the optimal operational mode for each customer depends upon a trade‐off of the customer's value to the company and the extra cost of deeper scope customization. It is found that an important peculiarity is the lower cost of adjacent orders that share similar characteristics. This analysis also highlightes the importance of inter‐functional cooperation and the central role of key account managers in order to overcome the inflexibility of company operational processes.
As in one‐company case studies, future research is needed to understand the degree findings hold true in other manufacturing companies, and to what degree the findings are idiomatic of the particular company or similar firms in the Baltic emerging business environment.
The present study contributes to research knowledge by examining the real‐life MC system in an integrated way, which is a novel attempt to connect different streams of MC literature. Moreover, it provides a starting point for further study of overcoming inflexibility challenges in MC.
This is the first known study that has examined the concept of MC in a non‐Western setting such as Estonia. The value of such research results from extending the knowledge of the concept to rapidly advancing markets.
Kotri, A. and McKenzie, B. (2010), "Mass customization and system development: case findings from the packaging industry", Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 100-117. https://doi.org/10.1108/17465261011016586Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited