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Themes of study in manufacturing strategy literature

K.A. Chatha (Suleman Dawood School of Business, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan)
I. Butt (College of Economics & Political Science, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 2 April 2015




A literature review within the manufacturing strategy (MS) discipline with a focus on thematic developments is provided. Based on recent studies, a set of challenges posed to manufacturing enterprise of the future are summarized, and thematic areas are analyzed in relation to meeting those challenges. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Based on a select set of 506 articles published in top-ranked refereed international journals in the discipline of operations management, major and subthemes are identified and the publication trends in these themes are provided with time and across geographical regions, namely: North America, Europe, and other parts of the world.


MS literature is predominantly focussed on the economic objectives of firms without a due focus on the social and environmental perspectives. MS literature covers 11 major thematic areas, namely: MS components and paradigms, manufacturing capabilities (MCs), strategic choices (SCs), best practices (BPs), the strategy process (SP), supply-chain management (SCM), performance measurement, transnational comparisons, global manufacturing, environmental/green manufacturing, and literature reviews. The research in two areas – SCs, and MCs – has been in decline, while the research in BPs, the SP, and transnational comparisons is growing (in absolute figures). Various research opportunities for future studies are identified.

Research limitations/implications

The literature review is limited in its selection of articles and journals, however, the identified trends clarify the state of research by the MS research community at large.

Practical implications

For researchers, multiple new research directions are identified in order to advance knowledge in the field of MS. The publication trends also highlight thematic areas where most of the MS body of knowledge is currently available and can be utilized by practitioners.


The paper’s novelty comes from: first, a broader and deeper review of thematic areas that has not been researched before, second, trends in thematic areas by time, across geographical regions, and including time-region dyads, and third, coverage provided by MS literature in meeting challenges posed to manufacturing enterprise of the future.



Chatha, K.A. and Butt, I. (2015), "Themes of study in manufacturing strategy literature", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 604-698.



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