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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 17 June 2019

Stephen Fox, Olli Aranko, Juhani Heilala and Päivi Vahala

Exoskeletons are mechanical structures that humans can wear to increase their strength and endurance. The purpose of this paper is to explain how exoskeletons can be used…

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Abstract

Purpose

Exoskeletons are mechanical structures that humans can wear to increase their strength and endurance. The purpose of this paper is to explain how exoskeletons can be used to improve performance across five phases of manufacturing.

Design/methodology/approach

Multivocal literature review, encompassing scientific literature and the grey literature of online reports, etc., to inform comprehensive, comparative and critical analyses of the potential of exoskeletons to improve manufacturing performance.

Findings

There are at least eight different types of exoskeletons that can be used to improve human strength and endurance in manual work during different phases of production. However, exoskeletons can have the unintended negative consequence of reducing human flexibility leading to new sources of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) and accidents.

Research limitations/implications

Findings are relevant to function allocation research concerned with manual production work. In particular, exoskeletons could exacerbate the traditional trade-off between human flexibility and robot consistency by making human workers less flexible.

Practical implications

The introduction of exoskeletons requires careful health and safety planning if exoskeletons are to improve human strength and endurance without introducing new sources of MSD and accidents.

Originality/value

The originality of this paper is that it provides detailed information about a new manufacturing technology: exoskeletons. The value of this paper is that it provides information that is comprehensive, comparative and critical about exoskeletons as a potential alternative to robotics across five phases of manufacturing.

Details

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, vol. 31 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-038X

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2020

Mario Fernando, Stephen Fox, Ruwan Bandara and Daniel Hartley

The purpose of this study is to examine the nature of interdisciplinary thinking and the conditions and processes that foster it among first-year undergraduate students.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the nature of interdisciplinary thinking and the conditions and processes that foster it among first-year undergraduate students.

Design/methodology/approach

This study with 510 Australian students drawn from 2 cohorts explored an initiative to promote interdisciplinary teaching in an undergraduate ethics-based subject. The study focused on a case-study-based reflective essay intervention to compare the teaching and learning outcomes in the two student cohorts.

Findings

The results show how a case-study-based reflective essay intervention impacted on interdisciplinary learning. Introducing the case-study-based reflective essay improved interdisciplinary thinking. Findings show that integral to engaging students in interdisciplinary learning is a need for more experiential and active approaches built into education itself.

Research limitations/implications

The study findings extend Spelt et al.’s (2009) model in the business education context to link student learning outcomes to the learning processes, learning environment and interdisciplinary thinking. A key limitation of this study is that the intervention is limited to only two student cohorts.

Practical implications

The study recommends the use of reflective practice in interdisciplinary subjects to support a variety of learning outcomes across disciplines including classroom-based and assignment-based reflective practices which influence interdisciplinary thinking and active learning.

Originality/value

There is limited understanding on how business schools should or could attempt to promote interdisciplinary teaching and the actual methods for doing so. This study highlights the significance of integrating reflective practice in undergraduate business education to promote students’ interdisciplinary thinking.

Details

Journal of International Education in Business, vol. 13 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-469X

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Article
Publication date: 16 May 2016

Stephen Fox

For several decades, national culture has been described as having major influence over international business outcomes. Yet national culture has been framed often by…

Abstract

Purpose

For several decades, national culture has been described as having major influence over international business outcomes. Yet national culture has been framed often by vague terms and simplistic scales. The purpose of this paper is to explain why and how the influence of national culture should be reframed.

Design/methodology/approach

Review of literature concerned with causation in the behaviour of individuals and groups: anthropology, cognition, psychology, cross-cultural psychology, cultural psychology and cultural geography.

Findings

Within every nationality, and across international business, there is dynamic complexity of thought and action among individuals and groups. This derives from differences of genders, age, cultures, personality types and past experiences; the highly complex interactions between them; their commingling with common traits; and the varying influence of contextual factors. This dynamic complexity cannot be addressed by managers through use of vague simplistic conceptualizations of national culture.

Practical implications

As an alternative to vague simplistic conceptualizations, scientific theories, such as resource-based theory, knowledge-based view, contagion theories and social cognition theory, can be referred to in the formulation of multi-resolution simulation models. These models can enable managers to analyze dynamic complex international business scenarios, in terms of situation-specific variables.

Originality/value

The originality of this paper is that it provides a detailed explanation of why vague simplistic conceptualizations of national culture are of limited usefulness to managers of international business. The value of this paper is that it describes a practical alternative: theory-based multi-resolution simulation models.

Details

Management Research Review, vol. 39 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8269

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1976

A memorial service to Mr Stephen Fox, chairman of International Marine Coatings, marine division of The International Paint Co. Ltd, and one of the best‐known figures in…

Abstract

A memorial service to Mr Stephen Fox, chairman of International Marine Coatings, marine division of The International Paint Co. Ltd, and one of the best‐known figures in the marine industry, took place at St Peter's Church, Vere Street, London, on April 6 at 12 noon.

Details

Pigment & Resin Technology, vol. 5 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0369-9420

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2002

STEPHEN FOX, LAURENCE MARSH and GRAHAM COCKERHAM

Since the early 1960s, the construction industry has been continually criticized for its low productivity and poor quality. Throughout this period, it has been widely…

Abstract

Since the early 1960s, the construction industry has been continually criticized for its low productivity and poor quality. Throughout this period, it has been widely recognized that building design has a significant impact on construction performance. As a result, considerable research and industry efforts have been focused on improving information and activities in the building design process. This paper reports the findings of a study which investigated how design imperatives affect design information and design activities. First, design imperatives are defined. Then, an analysis of their determining influence on design information and design activities are provided. Next, it is explained how design imperatives, rather than information and activities, constrain productivity and quality by limiting production options. In conclusion, it is argued that design imperatives have a greater influence on productivity and quality than the industry in which design is carried out.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 9 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 1991

Stephen Fox

The completed project discussed here represents the largest in‐depth survey of HRM to date. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with HRM directors, or equivalents in…

Abstract

The completed project discussed here represents the largest in‐depth survey of HRM to date. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with HRM directors, or equivalents in 60, mainly large, UK firms. The field work took place within a sampling‐frame created from the Data‐stream financial information source. Two key contrasting sectors were focussed upon ‐ Engineering and Electronics — with twenty companies in each. A miscellaneous group of twenty firms was also investigated as a piloting and control exercise. Data collected was of two kinds (1) rich qualitative descriptions of HRM practices and systems used in each company and (b) various quantitative company financial performance indices. The study is therefore revealing in terms of (a) simply describing HRM practice on the ground and (b) statistical correlations between these practices and company financial performance adjusted for sector effects.

Details

Management Research News, vol. 14 no. 7/8/9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0140-9174

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Article
Publication date: 30 September 2014

Stephen Fox

The purpose of this paper is to provide an analysis of how virtual-social-physical (VSP) convergence can affect different types of project manufacturing. In particular…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an analysis of how virtual-social-physical (VSP) convergence can affect different types of project manufacturing. In particular, VSP convergence that involves combining the read-write functionality of Web 2.0 and related social media together with digital tools for virtual design and for physical manufacturing.

Design/methodology/approach

Literature review and interviews with experts in technologies covering VSP convergence: digital data capture, photogrammetry, generative computation, Web 2.0 and social media, digitally driven manufacturing.

Findings

VSP convergence can enable the replacement of slow and expensive traditional project manufacturing practices with much faster and less expensive digitally driven technologies.

Practical implications

There are new opportunities for expansion of some types of project manufacturing. Notably, there are opportunities in non-industrial developing countries because VSP convergence reduces reliance on industrial infrastructure for the manufacturing of goods. By contrast, opportunities may be limited for expansion of established project manufacturing companies with exclusive brands.

Originality/value

The originality is that VSP convergence is related to different types of project manufacturing. Based on VSP convergence, traditional types and new types of project manufacturing are categorized together for the first time. The value of this paper is that it is explained how VSP convergence can address barriers to expansion of different types of project manufacturing.

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Article
Publication date: 22 March 2013

Stephen Fox

Hype about information and communication technology (ICT) emphasizes potential positive outcomes; while enabling factors are under‐emphasized and potential negative…

Abstract

Purpose

Hype about information and communication technology (ICT) emphasizes potential positive outcomes; while enabling factors are under‐emphasized and potential negative outcomes are excluded. The purpose of this paper is to broaden the framing of ICT to include enabling factors and potential negative outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper takes the form of a critical realist study. Critical realist research seeks to improve understanding of causal mechanisms and causal contexts.

Findings

Comprehensive enablers for decision making include balanced unambiguous information; specific trustworthy communication; quiet sufficient decision spaces; and independent engaged decision makers. The introduction of a new ICT can make a contribution to, and/or detract from, realization of these principal enabling factors.

Research limitations/implications

In this paper ICT is positioned within a preliminary comprehensive framing of enabling factors for decision making. ICT is used for other purposes. Nonetheless, the positioning of ICT in a preliminary comprehensive framing for decision making support reveals how hype about ICT can be mediated by consideration of enabling factors and potential negative outcomes.

Practical implications

The broader framing of enabling factors can provide a starting point for managers to undertake comprehensive improvement of information, communication, and contexts for decision making.

Originality/value

The originality of this paper is that it applies critical realism to mediate hype about ICTs that could be used to support decision making. The value of this paper is that it provides a detailed description of inter‐related factors that need to be managed in decision making support.

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Article
Publication date: 6 September 2013

Stephen Fox and Tuan Do

An emerging application of Big Data is the addition of sensors and other micro‐electronic devices to engineer‐to‐order (ETO) goods such as one‐of‐a‐kind buildings and…

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6377

Abstract

Purpose

An emerging application of Big Data is the addition of sensors and other micro‐electronic devices to engineer‐to‐order (ETO) goods such as one‐of‐a‐kind buildings and ships. The addition of micro‐electronic devices can enable the setting up and operation of smart buildings and smart ships. The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical realist analysis of Big Data hype. This is necessary to determine what challenges will need to be met before project businesses can achieve informational effects and transformational effects from Big Data technologies.

Design/methodology/approach

A critical realist study informed by reference to predictive theory and findings from action research. The predictive theory is concerned with the three different types of business effects that can come from information and communication technologies (ICTs): automational, informational, and transformational.

Findings

Critical realist analysis reveals that hype about Big Data underplays many challenges in achieving informational and transformational effects.

Practical implications

Many inter‐related non‐trivial factors need to be taken into account when considering investing in Big Data initiatives. These factors range from the planning of data sampling rates, through the robust fixing of sensors, to the implementation of data mining algorithms and signal models.

Originality/value

The originality of this paper is that critical realism is used in analysis of Big Data hype. The value of this paper is that it reveals a causal mechanism and causal context for project business Big Data application. This type of critical realist analysis can be applied to enable better understanding of necessary causal mechanisms and causal contexts for other ICT innovations.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 6 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 20 January 2012

Stephen Fox

The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of how descriptions of innovations can be formulated in order to reduce the potential for ontological uncertainty…

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1610

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of how descriptions of innovations can be formulated in order to reduce the potential for ontological uncertainty. Ontological uncertainty exists when individuals have perceptions about the future consequences of an innovation, which are based more on their diverse world views than on the innovation itself.

Design/methodology/approach

The research comprised unstructured interviews and review of the literature relating to innovation hype, innovation reliability, innovation negative unintended consequences, and critical realism.

Findings

Critical realist diagrams provide the basis for descriptions that can encompass an innovation's purpose; the functions and conditions which are necessary for its reliable operation; and also potential negative unintended consequences that might arise from the innovation.

Practical implications

There can be much hype and little clarity surrounding an innovation. This can make it easier for different stakeholders to have different perceptions of the same innovation. By increasing the clarity of descriptions, there can be less uncertainty about the purpose, reliability, and consequences of an innovation.

Originality/value

The originality of the paper is that provides example innovation descriptions which illustrate how hype can be decreased and clarity can be increased. The value of this paper is that supports reduction of ontological uncertainty in practice.

1 – 10 of 861