Trends in modern operations management

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 11 November 2013



Clegg, B., MacBryde, J. and Dey, P. (2013), "Trends in modern operations management", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 33 No. 11/12.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Trends in modern operations management

Article Type: Guest editorial From: International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Volume 33, Issue 11/12

This double special issue of the International Journal of Operations and Production Management contains ten papers which have been developed from a series of research seminars funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC, 2009-2010) (Reference RES-451-26-0547). These seminars have subsequently catalysed research into the following emerging trends in operations management:

  • The servitization of manufacturing – investigating how adding services in manufacturing organisations can add to their competitiveness.

  • E-operations – investigating the use of new developments in enterprise resource planning systems.

  • Outsourcing – looking at the bases for outsourcing and or insourcing of resources and capabilities.

  • Leanness and agility – looking at ways of reducing waste and increasing value created by operations.

  • Performance measurement and quality control – investigating how measuring operations can change operations behaviour.

These seminars, and their subsequent following research, were founded on the basis that global competitiveness can be enhanced by embracing these trends – which is only possible if organisations are using highly knowledgeable and professionally trained operations managers. Unfortunately, even in higher cost economies, it can sometimes be perceived that managers lack this knowledge and an accompanying formal higher education (Porter and Ketels, 2003).

Therefore, we believe that higher cost economies should seek to improve operations management education and practises through wider dissemination of the above trends if they are to remain competitive against emerging lower cost-economies (e.g. Brazil, Russia, India and China). This is because these trends are more likely to generate genuine long term sustainability than interventions taken through national policies aiming to artificially protect and preserve economic competitive positions by controlling imports, exports and foreign direct investment activity; which can distort, and disguise, the ineffectualness of actual operations management behaviour (Dowdy et al., 2005).

For instance, UK companies are seen as being slower to adopt contemporary management practises than their foreign counterparts, especially in manufacturing, which has negative implications for the UK’s future economic prosperity. Possible explanations for this behaviour include: resistance to change, complacency, inadequate training, and low private and public investment in R&D. All this, combined with a lack of institutional support to help disseminate best practises associated with higher performance operations, has reduced operations management competitiveness in the UK. Therefore, this seminar series was established to debate issues concerning the above trends, their impact upon operations management, especially in the UK, and share knowledge about these emerging beneficial practises. The seminars involved a mixture of approximately 250 academics, consultants, managers, politicians and research students. Further details about these seminars and subsequent research can be found here:

Twenty six papers were originally submitted to this special issue, which were narrowed down through the normal IJOPM reviewing process, to the following final ten papers; which fall loosely into the following themes:


  • “The servitization of manufacturing: a systematic literature review of interdependent trends” (by Lightfoot, Baines, and Smart) which gives a state-of-the-art look at servitization research.

  • “A decision methodology to support servitisation of manufacturing” (by Dimache and Roche) which gives a practical decision support framework to help managers adopt servitization.


  • “Managing enterprises and ERP systems: a contingency model for the enterprization of operations” (by Clegg and Wan) which gives a practical decision support model to help managers plan ERP adoption and enterprise-wide strategy.

  • “ERP systems in lean production: new insights from a review of lean and ERP literature” (by Powell) giving a current review of how lean and Enterprise Resource Planning systems can be used together to reduce organisational waste.


  • “Company-specific production systems and competitive advantage: a resource-based view on the Volvo production system” (by Torbjørn and Aspelund) providing a practical case study about building corporate core competencies.

  • “Supply chain professionals: a study of competencies, use of technologies, and future challenges” (by Prajogo and Sohal) which gives an up-to-date account of how competencies can be built throughout a supply chain.

Leanness and agility

  • “The role of management consultancy in implementing operations management in the public sector” (by Radnor and O’Mahoney) which gives an overview of lean adoption in large public organisations.

  • “Understanding high value manufacturing in Scottish SMEs’ (by MacBryde, Paton, and Clegg) gives an overview of how value creation can be enhanced in small private organisations.

Performance measurement

  • “Generating organisational performance: the contributing effects of performance measurement and human resource management practices” (by Bourne, Pavlov, Franco-Santos, Lucianetti and Mura) providing empirical cases about performance management challenges and successes.

  • “Performance measurement to drive improvements in healthcare practice” (by Elg, Palmberg Broryd and Kollberg) which provides empirical evidence for effective performance management systems to be implemented.

This special issue includes theoretical and empirical insights to bridge the gap between academic and practical perspectives. The authors hope that this research will act as a key point of reference for those wishing to conduct follow-on research into these operations management trends (Barratt et al., 2011). Hence, in turn, this should enable operations management practises based in higher cost economies to compete more sustainably, on a long-term basis, with those located in lower cost economies.


Barratt, M., Choi, T.Y. and Li, M. (2011), “Qualitative case studies in operations management: trends, research outcomes, and future research implications”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 29, pp. 329–342

Dowdy, J., Dorgan, S., Rippin, T., Van Reenen, J. and Bloom, N. (2005), Management Matters, McKinsey and Company and Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics & Political Science, available at: (accessed September 17, 2013)

ESRC (2009-2010), “Trends in modern operations management”, Reference RES-451-26-0547, Economic and Social Research Council, available at:

Porter, M.E. and Ketels, C.H.M. (2003), UK Competitiveness: Moving to the Next Stage, Department of Trade and Industry, available at: (accessed September 17, 2013)

Ben Clegg, Jillian MacBryde, Prasanta Dey
Guest Editors

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