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Article
Publication date: 13 February 2017

Martin Christopher and Matthias Holweg

The purpose of this paper is to provide an update to the Supply Chain Volatility Index (SCVI), and expand on prior work by presenting a conceptual framework illustrating…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an update to the Supply Chain Volatility Index (SCVI), and expand on prior work by presenting a conceptual framework illustrating how firms can deal with persistent volatility, the ensuing risk and mitigate the cost implications for their supply chain operations.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use long-term time series of secondary data to assemble a “basket” of key indicators that are relevant to the business context within which global supply chains operate. The authors also report on five years of feedback gained from presentations of the SCVI to scholars and practitioners.

Findings

Volatility has reduced from record levels experienced during the global financial crises, yet remains at levels considerably higher than prior to the crisis, with no sign of a return to the more stable conditions that prevailed when many current supply chain networks were designed.

Research limitations/implications

The authors reaffirm that new mental models are needed which embrace volatility as a factor in supply chain design, rather than seek to eradicate it in supply chain operations. Traditional static “network optimisation” based on a simple definition of low unit cost seems no longer appropriate under conditions of persistent volatility.

Practical implications

The authors provide a conceptual link of volatility, risk and cost in the supply chain, and outline how firms can develop a supply chain strategy by managing their exposure to volatility.

Originality/value

The authors challenge the common assumption that volatility invariably leads to risk and higher cost in the supply chain. Instead the authors argue that the supply chain structure can mitigate the exposure to supply chain risk. The authors introduce the concepts of recovery and resilience cost within a framework designed to help firms manage volatility-induced risk by minimising the adverse cost implications of volatility in their supply chains.

Details

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, vol. 47 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-0035

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Article
Publication date: 15 May 2018

Matthias Holweg and Harvey Maylor

The purpose of this paper is to understand the context of major projects and their management from an OM perspective; the authors provide a foundation for exploring how…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand the context of major projects and their management from an OM perspective; the authors provide a foundation for exploring how the body of work on lean production (the “old” theory) can contribute to the development of major projects (the “new” context). In doing so, it extends the prevailing economic approach to major projects (best described as “predict and provide”) and posits the development of an alternative approach based on extending the lean production logic to this new context (referred to as “predict and prevent”).

Design/methodology/approach

The paper investigates the scope for adopting lean practices in context of major project. To this effect the authors review the current state of both lean thinking and major project management, and use “Universal Credit” as an exploratory case study to illustrate and verify the arguments in practice.

Findings

Two main findings are proposed: first, the authors demonstrate the inherent performance challenge of major projects in OM terms, which the authors argue presents significant scope for the application of OM concepts to improve major project performance. Second, using lean thinking as framing, the authors identify three distinct process levels and common wastes in major projects, and identify five principles how lean could improve the delivery of major projects.

Research limitations/implications

Major projects present an untapped area for OM research; based on the exploratory case the authors propose ways how OM concepts can be applied to this new context. Further research will be needed to validate and generalise.

Practical implications

Major projects, including organisational transformations, IT-enabled change, major events and large infrastructure projects, constitute a large proportion of economic activity. Despite their prominence, however, they are also commonly associated with low success rates. This paper provides one route for exploring how a successful set of principles could be applied to improving their performance.

Originality/value

This work translates a popular set of ideas from OM to strengthening a relatively neglected context within OM. An agenda for further research is suggested to support the development of this application.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 38 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 16 August 2019

Benn Lawson, Antony Potter, Frits K. Pil and Matthias Holweg

Responding in a timely manner to product recalls emanating from the supply chain presents tremendous challenges for most firms. The source might be a supplier from the…

Abstract

Purpose

Responding in a timely manner to product recalls emanating from the supply chain presents tremendous challenges for most firms. The source might be a supplier from the same industry located next door, or one from a completely different sector of the economy situated thousands of miles away. Yet the speed of the firm’s response is crucial to mitigating the consequences of the recall both for the firm, and consumer health and well-being. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of geographic distance, industry relatedness and clustering on firm response time to a supplier-initiated product recall.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors test the theoretical framework via an examination of food recall announcements registered with the US Food and Drug Administration over a ten-year period. The authors develop a data set comprising 407 pairs of supplier and affected downstream manufacturing firms, and utilize cross-classified hierarchical linear modeling to understand the drivers of organizational responsiveness.

Findings

The results suggest that firm response time is lengthened by geographic distance but reduced when the supplier and affected firm operate in related industry sectors. The authors further find that as more firms in a given industry are affected by the same recall, response time deteriorates.

Originality/value

Product recalls in the agri-food industry are significant events initiated to protect consumer health and ensure the safety of the farm-to-fork food chain. The findings highlight how both geographic- and industry-related factors determine the speed of firm responsiveness to these events.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 39 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2015

Harry Boer, Matthias Holweg, Martin Kilduff, Mark Pagell, Roger Schmenner and Chris Voss

The need to make a “theoretical contribution” is a presumed mandate that permeates any researcher’s career in the Social Sciences, yet all too often this remains a source…

Abstract

Purpose

The need to make a “theoretical contribution” is a presumed mandate that permeates any researcher’s career in the Social Sciences, yet all too often this remains a source of confusion and frustration. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on, and further develops, the principal themes discussed in the “OM Theory” workshop in Dublin in 2011 and the special sessions at the 2011 and the 2013 EurOMA Conferences in Cambridge and Dublin.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents six short essays that explore the role and use of theory in management research, and specifically ask what is a good or meaningful contribution to theory. The authors comment on the current state of theory in Operations Management (OM) (Harry Boer), the type of theories the authors have in OM (Chris Voss), the role of theory in increasing the general understanding of OM problems (Roger Schmenner), whether the authors can borrow theories from other fields or actually have theory “of our own” (Matthias Holweg), the different ways in which a contribution to theory can be made (Martin Kilduff), and how to construct a theoretical argument (Mark Pagell).

Findings

The authors argue that theory is fundamental to OM research, but that it is not the inevitable starting point; discovery and observation are equally important and often neglected avenues to contributing to theory. Also, there is no one right way to making a contribution, yet consistency between ontology, epistemology, and claimed contribution is what matters. The authors further argue that the choice of theory is critical, as a common mistake is trying to contribute to high-level theories borrowed from other fields. Finally, the authors recommend using theory parsimoniously, yet with confidence.

Originality/value

The paper presents a collection of viewpoints of senior scholars on the need for, and use of, theory in OM research.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 35 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 16 October 2007

Andreas Reichhart and Matthias Holweg

While the concept of supply chain responsiveness (SCR) has received considerable attention in the operations management literature, mostly under the auspices of concepts…

Abstract

Purpose

While the concept of supply chain responsiveness (SCR) has received considerable attention in the operations management literature, mostly under the auspices of concepts such as build‐to‐order, mass customisation, lean and agility, so far there is a lack of comprehensive definition of SCR, as well as a defined relationship between “responsiveness” and “flexibility”. Also, the frameworks at hand tend to consider only a subset of factors previously identified in the literature, and thus do not comprehensively portray the cause‐and‐effect relationships involved. This paper aims to address these gaps.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper synthesises the existing contributions to manufacturing and supply chain flexibility and responsiveness, and draws on various related bodies of literature that affect a supply chain's responsiveness such as the discussion of product architecture and modularisation.

Findings

Four types of responsiveness are identified: product, volume, mix, and delivery, all of which can relate to different time horizons, and can be present as either potential or demonstrated responsiveness. It is argued that a supply chain can feature different levels of responsiveness at different tiers, depending on the configuration of the individual nodes, as well as the integration thereof. Furthermore, a holistic framework is proposed, distinguishing between requiring and enabling factors for responsiveness, identifying the key relationships within and between these two categories.

Research limitations/implications

The definition and framework proposed provide novel insights into the concept of SCR as well as a clear terminology that will inform future research. The framework developed in this paper is suitable for both qualitative and holistic quantitative studies.

Originality/value

In addition to a detailed review of the factors associated with SCR, a generic definition of responsiveness is developed. The paper proposes a definition of four types of responsiveness which will support further empirical studies into the concept and its application. Furthermore, a holistic framework is developed that allows for cause‐and‐effect relationships to be investigated and dependencies to be identified.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 27 no. 11
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 22 February 2011

Thomas Stäblein, Matthias Holweg and Joe Miemczyk

The purpose of this paper is to challenge the common claim of “infinite variety” being demanded in the marketplace by measuring not just how much variety theoretically…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to challenge the common claim of “infinite variety” being demanded in the marketplace by measuring not just how much variety theoretically could be produced, but how much is actually demanded by the customer. To this effect, the authors propose and validate market‐based variety measures with empirical data and in a second step, extend their analysis by applying these measures and empirically testing the impact of variety mitigation strategies, such as postponement and options bundling.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors analyse production and sales data of 226,106 passenger cars, comprising of three models of one vehicle manufacturer sold across four global market regions. The theoretical variety is compared with actual variety for each model‐market combination, and these data are linked to actual production and sales records.

Findings

The authors propose and validate product variety measures based on actual customer orders, and empirically demonstrate how these measures can be used to assess the impact of late configuration and option bundling strategies, and find that these are generally valid, but that their applicability is contingent upon the respective variety distribution profile.

Research limitations/implications

Analyses are developed within the context of a single firm and industry, although an attempt was made to counter this weakness by considering models from the volume, niche and premium market segments.

Practical implications

The paper highlights how actual variety differs from theoretical variety in practice, which in turn co‐determines the effectiveness of mitigation strategies applied by firms.

Originality/value

The paper's main contribution is to propose and empirically test a set of novel measures of product variety: the average repetition ratio and a specification Pareto curve, both of which complement and enhance one's understanding of product variety and its impact on manufacturing and distribution systems.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 31 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 14 June 2011

Sander de Leeuw, Matthias Holweg and Geoff Williams

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of decentralised control on finished goods inventory levels in a distribution system, and to identify the factors…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of decentralised control on finished goods inventory levels in a distribution system, and to identify the factors that determine the overall inventory level.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors' study is based on a mixed method approach using both a survey and semi‐structured interviews to assess inventory management practices and firm performance.

Findings

It was found that the common assumptions that distribution outlets or dealers are homogenous and that their behaviour is uniform in response to central control, such as the manufacturer's strategy, do not hold in practice. In fact, the authors show that under conditions of decentralised control, the inventories held at outlet level vary greatly around the aggregate inventory at overall manufacturer level and in this sense bear little resemblance to it. Amongst other conclusions, these findings provide a possible explanation for previous studies' inconclusive evidence on inventory reduction.

Research limitations/implications

The authors' research is based on evidence from the automotive industry in the USA; future research may include a wider industry analysis and geographical scope.

Practical implications

The paper identifies how incentives and decision‐making structures at the outlet level need to be considered in order to derive decisions that are optimal at the supply chain level.

Originality/value

The paper extends the current literature on the determinants of inventory levels by using dealer‐level data, as opposed to manufacturer or firm‐level data in previous studies, thereby identifying possible causes for the previously inconclusive evidence on inventory levels in distribution systems.

Details

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, vol. 41 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-0035

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2005

Matthias Holweg

The concept of responsiveness has been widely discussed, yet so far most of this discussion has remained qualitative in nature. The purpose of this paper is to develop a…

Abstract

Purpose

The concept of responsiveness has been widely discussed, yet so far most of this discussion has remained qualitative in nature. The purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual model identifying the key factors that determine the responsiveness of a supply chain system, which – once quantified – provide a unique profile of each supply chain setting towards the appropriate supply chain strategy.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews existing contributions and synthesises these into a conceptual model of responsiveness. The model is applied using three case studies from the automotive and electronics industry. The case research is based on value stream mapping, semi‐structured interviews, and site visits.

Findings

Three key findings could be established: first, the concept of responsiveness has a simple logic that aligns itself to a wide range of manufacturing strategies. However, underlying this remit is a complex interaction of an array of key variables, and it was found that previous contributions largely have only addressed a subset of these. Second, these key variables can be grouped into three categories or dimensions of responsiveness – product, process and volume – to provide a holistic understanding of responsiveness and its key determinants. Third, due to the large involved, there cannot be one single “holy grail” concept of how responsiveness can be achieved, neither does one single approach apply to entire sectors.

Research limitations/implications

A great variety of variables needs to be considered in order to provide a balanced view of all three dimensions of responsiveness, thus the case analyses remain at a necessarily high level.

Practical implications

The paper provides guidelines for management on how to align their supply chain strategy to volume, product and process contingency factors in order to balance responsiveness to customer demand and supply chain efficiency.

Originality/value

The paper aims to elevate a discussion that previously has been held mostly at a conceptual level beyond the qualitative description, and thus addresses a key shortcoming in the current debate.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 25 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 9 February 2010

Luiz Felipe Scavarda, Andreas Reichhart, Silvio Hamacher and Matthias Holweg

The need for an efficient provision of product variety has been widely established as a means of competing in the marketplace, yet previous studies into the management of…

Abstract

Purpose

The need for an efficient provision of product variety has been widely established as a means of competing in the marketplace, yet previous studies into the management of product variety have commonly analysed products in isolated developed markets. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how firms manage their product variety in emerging markets. This paper aims to investigate the rationale underlying the restriction of variety in such settings, and define general mechanisms by which firms can adapt their product variety when operating in both emerging and developed markets simultaneously.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses the case of a global vehicle manufacturer that offers common products across developed and emerging markets to illustrate the difference between them in terms of product variety, and examine the process that underlies its management. The paper utilises a combination of data collection techniques.

Findings

The paper shows empirically how product variety (in particular ex factory variety) is restricted in emerging markets, as one would expect, and it identifies the mechanisms by which product variety is managed across different markets. The paper further illustrates how emerging markets have developed secondary coping mechanisms to deliver additional variety through late configuration in the distribution system.

Originality/value

By examining the differential management of product variety in emerging and developed markets, the findings yield several novel aspects by providing both empirical evidence and explanations for the restriction of product variety in emerging markets.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 30 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2005

Matthias Holweg

The ability of a manufacturing system to respond to customer demand in a timely fashion is widely accepted as a source of competitive advantage. While quick response…

Abstract

Purpose

The ability of a manufacturing system to respond to customer demand in a timely fashion is widely accepted as a source of competitive advantage. While quick response concepts at system level have been widely discussed in a range of industry sectors, such as textile, electronics and fast moving consumer goods, few studies so far have specifically investigated the responsiveness of the component supply chain. This exploratory study hence aims to reconcile the considerable ambiguity that exists around the concept of supplier responsiveness, supported by an empirical investigation into the automotive parts industry.

Design/methodology/approach

The study analyses the responsiveness of first‐tier automotive suppliers in Europe. The research is based on a multi‐method approach comprising of a survey, coupled with in‐depth processing mapping and complimenting interviews of production control staff at a subset of the surveyed companies.

Findings

The findings suggest that supplier responsiveness is constrained by both endogenous factors originating from within their own manufacturing operations, as well as exogenous factors related to both their respective up‐stream and downstream tiers. Furthermore, the study highlights how first‐tier suppliers are “squeezed” between demanding vehicle manufacturers on the one hand, and an unresponsive raw material supply base on the other, constraining their overall ability to respond to changing market requirements.

Research limitations/implications

The conclusions derived from this research are bound by the sample these are drawn from, and additional large‐scale analyses are suggested as further research.

Originality/value

While the concept of “responsiveness” has been widely discussed in the supply chain literature, this debate has largely remained in the realms of qualitative description. Few studies have empirically addressed the issue of supply chain responsiveness, and if so, often focused on a subset of factors (e.g. schedule variations) only. In this paper, an holistic approach to responsiveness is adopted that aims at identifying the key variables that impact on supply chain responsiveness, as well as providing quantitative evidence to support these claims.

Details

The International Journal of Logistics Management, vol. 16 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-4093

Keywords

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