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How Australian manufacturing firms perceive and understand the concepts of agility and flexibility in the supply chain

Sajad Fayezi (Department of Information Systems and Logistics, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia)
Ambika Zutshi (School of Management and Marketing, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
Andrew O'Loughlin (School of Management and Marketing, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 2 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address an important question which centres on investigating how do manufacturing businesses perceive and understand the concepts of agility and flexibility in their supply chains (SCs).

Design/methodology/approach

A case study approach was utilised and data were gathered from semi-structured interviews with ten organisations in the Australian manufacturing sector. Data analysis was conducted using analytic techniques based on, for example, pattern matching and cross-case synthesis.

Findings

Findings confirmed that there is some ambiguity concerning the understanding of the terms agile and flexible, both within and between organisations. The implications are that there is often little consistency in the way the terms are operationalised and then applied. In this regard, and to inform future research, the paper offers empirically grounded definitions for SC agility and flexibility. Moreover, four propositions are developed and discussed which shed light on the dynamics of agility and flexibility in the SC.

Originality/value

This is one of the first empirical studies to address some of the apparent inconsistencies between organisational applications of agility and flexibility, and their impact on SC operations.

Keywords

Citation

Fayezi, S., Zutshi, A. and O'Loughlin, A. (2015), "How Australian manufacturing firms perceive and understand the concepts of agility and flexibility in the supply chain", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 246-281. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-12-2012-0546

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited