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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1997

James M.J. Cheng, John E.L. Simmons and ames M. Ritchie

Flexibility is widely recognized, in research literature and in more popular publications, as being of crucial importance in manufacturing. However, there is evidence of…

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1611

Abstract

Flexibility is widely recognized, in research literature and in more popular publications, as being of crucial importance in manufacturing. However, there is evidence of confusion among the numerous definitions of flexibility and it is arguable that, even now, the concept is not well understood. Furthermore, there is no simple approach for the systematic incorporation of flexibility level by level within the hierarchy of a conventional manufacturing system. Introduces a unifying and simple set of concepts for flexibility from a management perspective. The purpose of this “capability and capacity” approach is to interpret and integrate various types of flexibility throughout the manufacturing system. Use of this approach leads to four important principles for the integration of a system’s overall flexibility. Analyses flexibility types within manufacturing using the proposed approach.

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Integrated Manufacturing Systems, vol. 8 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-6061

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1987

Nigel Slack

Many of the new pressures from today's manufacturing environment are turning manufacturing managers' attention to the virtues of developing a flexible manufacturing…

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1900

Abstract

Many of the new pressures from today's manufacturing environment are turning manufacturing managers' attention to the virtues of developing a flexible manufacturing function. Flexibility, however, has different meanings for different managers and several perfectly legitimate alternative paths exist towards flexible manufacturing. How managers in ten companies view manufacturing flexibility in terms of how they see the contribution of manufacturing flexibility to overall company performance; what types of flexibility they regard as important; and what their desired degree of flexibility is. The results of the investigations in these ten companies are summarised in the form of ten empirical “observations”. Based on these “observations” a check‐list of prescriptions is presented and a hierarchical framework developed into which the various issues raised by the “observations” can be incorporated.

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International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 7 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1992

Nigel Slack and Henrique Correa

Examines two differing manufacturing operations and characterizestheir manufacturing planning and control (MPC) systems. The primaryconcern of this categorization analysis…

Abstract

Examines two differing manufacturing operations and characterizes their manufacturing planning and control (MPC) systems. The primary concern of this categorization analysis is to examine the similarities and differences between the flexibilities inherent in each operation′s MPC system. One company has a system which is primarily a push‐based system, the other largely a pull‐based system. Examines different categories of flexibility in terms of both range flexibility (how far the system can cope with the change) and response flexibility (how fast the system can cope with change). The major conclusion is that pull‐based systems have flexibility characteristics which are characterized by relatively clearly thought‐out discontinuities in their range response curves.

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International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 12 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 6 January 2012

Chung‐Yean Chiang, Canan Kocabasoglu‐Hillmer and Nallan Suresh

The purpose of this paper is to investigate two potentially key drivers of a firm's supply chain agility, namely strategic sourcing and firm's strategic flexibility

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6632

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate two potentially key drivers of a firm's supply chain agility, namely strategic sourcing and firm's strategic flexibility. Despite some theoretical and conceptual works suggesting that some elements of these two constructs may relate to agility, this has not yet been assessed together empirically. This study aims to address this gap in the literature.

Design/methodology/approach

This study involves an empirical investigation of a theory‐based model based on the competence‐capability framework, and a dynamic capabilities theoretical perspective, where the internal competencies of strategic sourcing and firm's strategic flexibility relate to the dynamic capability of the firm's supply chain agility. This investigation also includes the testing of a possible mediation effect of firm's strategic flexibility on the relationship between strategic sourcing and the firm's supply chain agility. The model is tested utilizing data from 144 US manufacturing firms via partial least square methodology.

Findings

The results of the empirical study indicated that both strategic sourcing and firm's strategic flexibility were significantly related to the firm's supply chain agility. In addition, while a full mediation effect was not found on the part of strategic flexibility, there was evidence for partial mediation.

Research limitations/implications

Given that the data are from specific US industries, the generalizability of current findings to other industries or countries may require additional investigation.

Originality/value

Given the attention paid to agility in terms of its importance to responding to business uncertainty, and more recently, as an important capability in managing supply chain disruption risks, this paper investigates how strategic sourcing and flexibility can contribute to agility.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 3 May 2011

Quah Hock Soon and Zulkifli Mohamed Udin

The purpose of this paper is to investigate supply chain management practices related to flexibility, value chain and capabilities. It describes an exploratory study to…

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7020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate supply chain management practices related to flexibility, value chain and capabilities. It describes an exploratory study to examine the interrelated factors to propose a research framework.

Design/methodology/approach

A comparative case study was conducted on several manufacturing organizations in the electrical and electronic industry, investigating the business drivers and response effect of a flexible value chain.

Findings

In general, all the organizations enhanced their manufacturing flexibility components with supply and logistic networks in order to be responsive to customers and gain tangible benefits. The core flexibility of the value chain can be defined from operational, supply and logistics perspectives where different levels of integration and implementation strategies offer different levels of flexibility response to volume and product mix.

Research limitations/implications

Research through case survey requires further empirical investigation to quantify the determinants and the significance of the relationship theorized. However, the findings confirmed the practical aspect of manufacturers to consider flexibility in designing their value chain within the industry.

Originality/value

The paper highlights the fact that local manufacturers value the flexibility aspect of supply chains to stay competitive during demand uncertainties and being responsive to customers.

Details

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-038X

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 1996

Håkan Nordahl and Carl‐Henric Nilsson

Managers’ perceptions of flexibility in manufacturing were investigated in a research case study conducted at six Swedish companies within the engineering industry. The…

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520

Abstract

Managers’ perceptions of flexibility in manufacturing were investigated in a research case study conducted at six Swedish companies within the engineering industry. The goal of the study was to establish which factors managers considered to be important for manufacturing flexibility and how companies and managers perceived flexibility. The size of the company, the complexity of the products and the level of technology used in production were factors found to be important for issues concerning manufacturing flexibility. The findings have implications for both managers and researchers. Managers should be aware of the lack of conformity in the perception of flexibility within companies and its possible consequences. Gives researchers suggestions based on this study, for further research in manufacturing flexibility.

Details

Integrated Manufacturing Systems, vol. 7 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-6061

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Article
Publication date: 23 November 2021

Anurodhsingh Khanuja and Rajesh Kumar Jain

Supply chain integration (SCI) and flexibility (SCF) are recognised as crucial business practices and capability in the global competitive market. However, limited…

Abstract

Purpose

Supply chain integration (SCI) and flexibility (SCF) are recognised as crucial business practices and capability in the global competitive market. However, limited research has paid attention to study the relationship between SCI, SCF and their impact on supply chain performance (SCP). Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to establish a relationship between integration, flexibility and performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The structural equation modelling technique was used to analyse the 187 data collected from Indian organisations through the survey methodology.

Findings

Findings indicate that external integration contributes significantly to realise SCF and SCP. Sourcing and logistics flexibility also help to improve the SCP. The mediation analysis showed that the association of customer and supplier integration with SCP is partially and fully mediated by logistics flexibility, respectively. This study suggests that integration influences the SCP when the firm has a strong association with downstream partners and enough capability for logistics flexibility.

Research limitations/implications

The study has collected cross-sectional data to analyse the relationship between SCI, SCF and SCP. However, as integration requires an effort of the years, longitudinal data and industry-specific studies may provide comprehensive views to validate the results of this study.

Originality/value

Building on relational view theory and dynamic capability theory, the study has proposed the SCP assessment framework based on the relationship between SCI and SCF.

Details

Journal of Enterprise Information Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-0398

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Article
Publication date: 14 May 2021

Anurodhsingh Khanuja and Rajesh Kumar Jain

This paper aims to establish a relationship between supply chain integration (SCI) and supply chain flexibility (SCF) to develop a two-dimensional approach, i.e…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to establish a relationship between supply chain integration (SCI) and supply chain flexibility (SCF) to develop a two-dimensional approach, i.e. integrated flexibility.

Design/methodology/approach

Building on a relational view and dynamic capability theory, this paper argues that integrated flexibility is the strategy that enables organisations to achieve different positions and states to create distinctive capability. The article has proposed the conceptual framework that connects different supply chain strategies and practices to improve supply chain performance (SCP) considering the cross-disciplinary approach.

Findings

The conceptual framework around the new perspective, i.e. integrated flexibility, is built to deal with issues related to operations management. The paper suggests examining the mediating effect of SCF between SCI and SCP and the moderating role of knowledge management (KM), data analytics (DA) and quality management (QM) practices on their relationship. Moreover, research direction in terms of propositions and implications are developed to showcase how underlying practices streamline the supply chain and lead to superior SCP.

Practical implications

The proposed framework discusses the degree of integration and flexibility levels to guide practitioners in designing a supply chain strategy with their partners and answering how much resources need to be extended to achieve flexible operations and realise SCP.

Originality/value

Authors have developed an entirely new integrated flexibility concept that provides a base to sustain in the competitive market. The foundation of integrated flexibility is built on relational view and dynamic capability theory and supported by DA, QM and KM.

Details

The TQM Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2731

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Article
Publication date: 9 January 2009

Ednilson Santos Bernardes and Mark D. Hanna

The purpose of this paper is to study the often overlapping use of the related terms flexibility, agility and responsiveness in the operations management literature to…

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8970

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to study the often overlapping use of the related terms flexibility, agility and responsiveness in the operations management literature to clarify differences between the terms.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on the notion of the ladder of abstraction, a conceptual differentiation between the three terms is proposed.

Findings

Based on the most common associations of the terms in the literature, the paper proposes a hierarchical interrelationship between the terms in that: flexibility is most commonly associated with the inherent property of systems which allows them to change within pre‐established parameters; agility is predominantly used to describe an approach to organizing that provides for rapid system reconfiguration in the face of unforeseeable changes; and responsiveness commonly refers to a system behavior involving timely purposeful change in the presence of modulating stimuli.

Practical implications

As managers of manufacturing firms strive to improve the performance of their organizations in a highly competitive environment, the paper provides a useful enhanced understanding of the relative roles that flexibility, agility and responsiveness play in their operations strategies. This in turn will enable them to better focus their competitive strategies and investments.

Originality/value

While confusion between the meanings of these terms has been noted by others, the paper is believed to be the first to consider the three terms together and thereby propose a differentiation between them.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 29 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 3 August 2021

Helena Forslund and Stig-Arne Mattsson

The purpose of this study is to identify, characterize and assess supplier flexibility measurement practices in the order-to-delivery process.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to identify, characterize and assess supplier flexibility measurement practices in the order-to-delivery process.

Design/methodology/approach

The study involved a survey; participants were 224 purchasing managers at Swedish manufacturing companies that had more than 20 employees.

Findings

Scrutiny of the details of measurement practices revealed that most respondents actually do not specifically measure supplier flexibility. Instead they measure other measures like delivery reliability, conduct qualitative follow-ups, or cannot specify how supplier flexibility is measured. It was acknowledged that they measure different supplier flexibility aspects, and the applied measures were characterized, e.g. in terms of which flexibility dimension they represent.

Research limitations/implications

Conceptual clarifications and adaptations to measuring supplier flexibility in the order-to-delivery process are provided. The identified measures can be a contribution in further developing literature on flexibility performance measurement.

Practical implications

Purchasing, logistics and supply chain managers in search of supplier flexibility performance measurement can find ways to measure and an extended flexibility vocabulary. This has the potential to improve flexibility in the supply chain.

Originality/value

Even though flexibility is claimed as being an important competitive advantage, few empirical studies and operationalized measures exist, particularly in the order-to-delivery process.

Details

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-0401

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