Jonsson, P. and Johansson, M. (2011), "Guest editorial", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 31 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijopm.2011.02431caa.001Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Guest editorial From: International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Volume 31, Issue 3
About the Guest EditorsPatrik Jonsson is a Professor of Operations and Supply Chain management at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. He has an MSc in Logistics Engineering from Växjö University and a PhD in Production Management from Lund University. He was the Co-chair of the 16th International Annual EurOMA Conference, 2009. His research interests focus on manufacturing enterprises and include sourcing and supply management, supply chain planning, operations planning and control, and the role of planning systems and information exchange.
Mats Johansson is a Professor of Logistics at Chalmers University of Technology, from where he also holds MSc and PhD degrees. He was the Co-chair of the 16th International Annual EurOMA conference, 2009. His research interests focus on planning and control, both in healthcare and manufacturing operations, materials handling, and methods for evaluating competitiveness, costs and environmental impacts of supply chains, in operation as well as during early supply chain design phases.
Themes, research methods and papers at the EurOMA 2009 Conference
This special issue contains extended and double-blind reviewed versions of six papers presented at the 16th International Annual EurOMA Conference, 2009. The conference was hosted by the Department of Technology Management and Economics at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. It contained 285 full paper presentations and about 420 participants.
Previous studies have assessed the research themes covered in operations management journals. Pilkington and Meredith (2009) studied articles in the Journal of Operations Management, International Journal of Operations & Production Management (IJOPM), and Production and Operations Management between 1980 and 2006. Pilkington and Fitzgerald (2006) reviewed and classified articles published in the IJOPM between 1994 and 2003. Taylor and Taylor (2009) reviewed and classified the papers submitted to and published in the IJOPM between 2004 and 2009. The findings of these studies are quite similar, identifying supply chain management, operations strategy, performance management, and lean systems to be in the forefront of the operations management research agenda. In the most recent study (Taylor and Taylor, 2009), eight topics represented about 80 percent of the papers published in the journal. Almost all papers presented at the 16th EurOMA conference could also be related to these eight topics (Figure 1): 60 percent of the papers had supply chain management or operations strategy as main themes. Even more papers were related to these two topics, but had other main themes. Lean, service operations and operations planning and control were other common themes. Compared to the Taylor and Taylor (2009) review, the conference contained fewer papers on performance management and more on supply chain management, lean, and operations planning and control. We include enterprise information systems in the operations planning and control theme, which may explain why there were quite so many papers with that topic at the conference. Another observation is that the conference had more papers on healthcare and sustainability, compared to the previous studies. There were special sessions in healthcare operations, sustainable operations, global operations management, and lean services. 22, 15, 18, six papers were presented in the respective session. The special sessions may be a reason for the large number of papers in these fields. Other themes not visible in the eight main themes of Figure 1, but with several papers were ICT and information sharing, modularization, innovation, responsiveness and risk management.
The main focus of EurOMA conferences is on empirical research, and it is therefore not surprising that case studies and survey studies are dominating (Figure 2). Compared to the Taylor and Taylor (2009) review of papers published in IJOPM it is however interesting to notice that as many as 44 percent of the papers presented at the conference were based on case studies, compared to 28 percent in their journal paper review. Of the case studies, about one-third are based on single cases, and almost all case studies conduct qualitative data analyses. There are also quite a number of literature reviews and conceptual papers at the conference. It is not very surprising that case studies and conceptual papers are common at the conference. The EurOMA conference has European traditions, and case study research is the dominating methodological approach among many European researchers. It is also logical to believe that the conference contains more papers in the early stages of a research project, which may also favour case studies and literature reviews.
All together, the papers of the conference represent a remarkable scope as regards the empirical domains of the papers. The manufacturing sector, within which many of the researchers have their roots, is still a large part. The strong manufacturing focus in operations management research was also noticed in the operations management journal assessments (Pilkington and Fitzgerald, 2006; Pilkington and Meredith, 2009; Taylor and Taylor, 2009). However, a number of service-dominated businesses are present in the studies behind the papers. It is easy to see rationales to this, e.g. the growing proportion of such operations, both relating to the service sector as such and to the interest of the manufacturing sector to move into service. Service operations are evolving as a research area. In such a development it is natural that concepts and knowledge from the manufacturing sector is transferred into the service sector, but interestingly, a number of phenomena might be better studied within service and transferred in the other direction.
The papers included in this special issue illustrate both the growing scope of the empirical domain and give examples of knowledge that can be of high importance in manufacturing firms but sometimes better studied within the service sector. The special issue consists of six papers, two of which are within healthcare. The paper, “Patient satisfaction, managers’ climate orientation and organizational climate” studies the link between patient satisfaction and managers’ climate orientation, and between patient satisfaction and the employees’ perception of the climate. The hospital ward is an excellent environment to study the more generalized research question relating to this, and it is probably of high importance also in the manufacturing industry, in business to business relationships. The second paper studying the healthcare domain, “Coordination of physicians’ operational activities: a contingency perspective” puts the question of the fit between the coordination practices employed and the levels of customer-induced uncertainty and task uncertainty.
Customer perception, in this case an internal customer, is also studied in the third paper “The impact of user-perceived e-procurement quality on system and contract compliance”. This paper examines the extent to which user-perceived e-procurement quality influences the compliance and finds strong evidence for a positive relationship. The result suggests that the success of a system change is determined by those individuals expected to adopt the new process. The theme of user adoption is also a vital part of the fourth paper “The impact of country culture on the adoption of new form of work organization”. This paper examines, by means of a survey, patterns of adoption in relation to cultural characteristics and economic development of the country. An important practical implication is how to take such contextual factors into account when transferring models to different countries.
Two papers, from different sectors, are researching customization in relation to aspects of system design and strategies. To handle complexity induced by the product offering and customer demand is challenging a broad spectrum of industries. The fifth paper “Service delivery system design: characteristics and contingencies” investigates the characteristics and contingencies of service delivery system design, by performing an embedded case study of the system designs in an organization within the power industry. The sixth paper “Theoretical versus actual product variety: how much customization do customers really demand?” is comparing the variety that is theoretically offered with the variety actually demanded by the customer, and is thereby able to empirically test the impact of variety mitigation strategies. This study is conducted within the automotive industry.
We hope the EurOMA conferences will continue in the same spirit as the previous conferences, providing a unique opportunity for academics from all over the world to disseminate recent work, stimulate new research and improve connection with the OM community. The majority of the conference papers were related to “traditional” operations management research themes (supply chain management and operations strategy) but there were also many papers focusing on “newer” themes (e.g. sustainability and healthcare). May this indicate that these “newer” themes will be more prominent in the operations management journals in the coming years? Perhaps, the stronger focus on case studies and conceptual work also is a trend we may see in the journals in the future.
Patrik Jonsson, Mats JohanssonGuest Editors
Pilkington, A. and Fitzgerald, R. (2006), “Operations management themes, concepts and relationships: a forward retrospect of IJOPM”, International Journal of Operation & Production Management, Vol. 26 No. 11, pp. 1255–75
Pilkington, A. and Meredith, J. (2009), “The evolution of the intellectual structure of operations management – 1980-2006: a citation/co-citation analysis”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 185–2002
Taylor, A. and Taylor, M. (2009), “Operations management research: contemporary themes, trends and potential directions”, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 29 No. 12, pp. 1316–40