Understanding high-value manufacturing in Scottish SMEs

Jillian MacBryde (University of Strathclyde Business School, Glasgow, UK)
Steve Paton (Strathclyde Institute for Operations Management, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)
Ben Clegg (Operations & Information Management Group, Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Publication date: 11 November 2013



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the use of high-value manufacturing (HVM) concepts in Scottish SMEs and define how they are being used to gain competitive advantage.


Cross-sectional research carried out using a large-scale survey of 435 SMEs and semi-structured interviews of a subset of 50 SMEs.


Findings indicate that HVM is not a homogeneous state but an umbrella term for a number of operational models adopted by manufacturers that are progressively moving from simple price-based production; companies must, as a foundation, be operationally excellent in all lifecycle phases before extending their capability by offering a more comprehensive service; HVM is not a static state but a journey that differs in nature for each manufacturer depending on the nature of its market and customer.

Research limitations/implications

The approach to theory must be more integrated combining aspects of marketing, strategic and operational theory. Research must be carried out using the supply chain, rather than the firm, as the unit of analysis.

Practical implications

Manufacturing efficiency has now become an order qualifier and competitive advantage should now be sought through the integration of design, production and service activities from strategic levels down to operational levels across all the functions of a business which link seamlessly to customer and supplier activities.


This paper contains insights into Scottish SMEs and their practice of HVM; defines the activity that makes up HVM at an operational as opposed to an economic or strategic level; proposes a model that characterises the stages of HVM that SMEs transition through.



This research was funded by a grant supplied by the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) and as such forms part of a more extensive research exercise commissioned to investigate all aspects of the future of manufacturing in Scotland. In addition, the authors would like to thank SMAS for providing information on, and helping with access to, the research companies; commenting on and assisting with research design; and reviewing the final report.


MacBryde, J., Paton, S. and Clegg, B. (2013), "Understanding high-value manufacturing in Scottish SMEs", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 33 No. 11/12, pp. 1579-1598. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-07-2010-0205

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