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Abstract

Subject area

Operations and Logistics.

Study level/applicability

Senior undergraduate students and postgraduate students specialising in agricultural economics/agribusiness/supply chain management and can also be used for executive training for supply chain managers and corporate social responsibility (CSR) managers of food companies.

Case overview

This case presents an industry leading company – Nestlé’s sustainable initiative in its dairy supply chain in China. The case begins with the background of China’s dairy industry, followed by an introduction of the case company. The case then moves on to the comparison of Nestlé’s fresh milk supply chain operation before and after 2008 and different approaches to help the dairy suppliers’ transformation. The focus is on Nestlé’s innovative industry collaboration platform, the Dairy Farming Institute.

Expected learning outcomes

This case allows students to explore the following theoretical frameworks: sustainable supply chain management; supply chain leadership, supply chain learning and supply chain structure. By analysing this case, students should be able to gain an understanding of how multinational corporations (MNCs) play a supply chain leadership role in supply chain learning of sustainable supply chain initiatives.

Supplementary materials

Teaching Notes are available for educators only. Please contact your library to gain login details or email support@emeraldinsight.com to request teaching notes.

Subject code

CSS 9: Operations and Logistics.

Details

Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies, vol. 8 no. 1
Type: Case Study
ISSN: 2045-0621

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 10 June 2020

Regina Frei, Lisa Jack and Steve Brown

This article sheds light onto the increasing problem of product returns, which is exacerbated by growing e-commerce. Many retailers and academics are oblivious to the…

Abstract

Purpose

This article sheds light onto the increasing problem of product returns, which is exacerbated by growing e-commerce. Many retailers and academics are oblivious to the nature and scale of this challenge. Interdisciplinary research is needed to develop supporting theory, and cross-functional teams are required to implement measures addressing economic, ecological and social sustainability issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The initial project adopted a multi-case study approach, whereby returns processes were mapped, vulnerabilities identified and a returns cost calculator was developed.

Findings

Product returns processes are usually complicated, prone to internal and external fraud, inefficient and lack sustainability. They can generate considerable losses to the business, especially as returns data are often not systematically collected, monitored or reported to senior management. There are important implications for strategic and operational management, namely the need to develop a concept for Lean returns systems.

Originality/value

Product returns are a unique and understudied but growing field in academic research, with only few publications over the last two decades. Yet the phenomenon is causing increasing problems in business and society. Robust solutions could achieve great financial and non-financial impacts.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 40 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Olga Matthias and Steve Brown

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how operations strategy and Lean concepts can be applied within a healthcare organisation and the degree to which both Lean and…

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4783

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how operations strategy and Lean concepts can be applied within a healthcare organisation and the degree to which both Lean and operations strategy are understood by senior-level National Health Service (NHS) personnel, based on the process of ongoing longitudinal cases studies. Further interviews and data analysis will examine actual performance of Lean capabilities within the NHS.

Design/methodology/approach

For this explanatory multiple-case study project the authors collected data through semi-structured interviews with executives in the NHS to understand how operations strategies are developed in the NHS and implemented in NHS hospitals. The unit of analysis is the hospital. Multiple (22) interviews took place over 12 months with senior-level personnel responsible for implementing change via operations strategy goals, and incorporating Lean initiatives. In addition, to triangulate data, the authors examined healthcare reports and strategy policy documents from each case hospital. This forms stage 1 of a longitudinal study which will examine the actual performance of Lean within the NHS hospitals across a range of operations parameters and explore links between such capabilities and the role and importance of operations strategy in more detail.

Findings

The findings lead to the conclusion that operations strategies were not fully developed within the hospitals. In addition, the ongoing data capture shows that “Best practice” was not being disseminated across the NHS, for either patient experience or organisational effectiveness and the role of operations strategy was not fully clear other than as a rather vague “umbrella” term. Despite Lean’s attraction for healthcare at a micro-level, significant operational and cultural hurdles must be overcome for the full strategic benefits of Lean to be realised. A much more holistic approach in providing a full service for the whole of the patient journey is needed.

Research limitations/implications

The sample provides an initial snapshot. A larger number of hospitals and/or further longitudinal research will be needed to deepen understanding of embedding strategic change to improve overall performance.

Practical implications

Tackling cultural performance and operational issues at a macro-level could help healthcare providers reconcile the perceived conflicting goals of improving patient care (i.e. service delivery) whilst simultaneously reducing costs. The role of explicit operations strategies could be pivotal in designing and implementing such change.

Originality/value

This research builds on and extends the work of Toussaint and Berry (2013), Seddon and O’Donovan (2010) and Carlborg and Kowalkowski (2013). The authors highlight how some of the apparent contradictions in the requirements of the various stakeholders create operational and strategic tensions. The authors highlight the multi-faceted nature of design and delivery of a multi-touchpoint service within the complexity of a large healthcare provider.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 36 no. 11
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 28 February 2020

Ai Qiang Li, Nicholas Rich, Pauline Found, Maneesh Kumar and Steve Brown

In the age of Industry 4.0, digital advancement is reshaping manufacturing models towards product–service systems (PSS). The drivers, readiness and challenges to move to a…

Abstract

Purpose

In the age of Industry 4.0, digital advancement is reshaping manufacturing models towards product–service systems (PSS). The drivers, readiness and challenges to move to a PSS model are not well understood, and the exploitation of the digital era presents the gap of this research.

Design/methodology/approach

The research was conducted using semi-structured interviews in six manufacturers. Two forum debates were also conducted to supplement and validate the findings.

Findings

Social and economic motivations rather than environmental considerations were driving the change to PSS. Digital technologies could be an important driver if manufacturers reached a certain PSS maturity level. A high level of technical readiness was offset by a low level of social investments and the strategic development of human resources. Value co-creation was a main challenge though manufacturers had the advantage of digital connectivity, which indicated new human requirements; the greater the enabling power of digital technologies, the greater the need for advanced human skills.

Practical implications

Human resource management has underpinned lean models; yet, the role of employees within PSS is underdeveloped despite the impact of staff in exploiting digitalisation and value co-creation. A “learning organisation” and socio-technical fit are required for the “diffusion of innovation” of PSS.

Originality/value

This research attempted to explore drivers, readiness and challenges for PSS from a socio-technical systems (STS) perspective. Three levels of PSS maturity with STS features were derived from the research, providing guidance for manufacturers.

Details

The TQM Journal, vol. 32 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2731

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 2 October 2017

Alex Hill, Richard Cuthbertson, Benjamin Laker and Steve Brown

The purpose of this paper is to present 13 propositions about how internal strategic fit (often referred to as fit) impacts the business performance of low cost and…

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1105

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present 13 propositions about how internal strategic fit (often referred to as fit) impacts the business performance of low cost and differentiated services. It then uses these relationships to develop two “fitness ladder” frameworks to help practitioners understand how to improve fit given their business strategy (low cost or differentiation) and performance objectives (operational, financial or competitiveness).

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 11 strategic business units were studied that perform differently and provide a range of low cost and differentiated services to understand how changes in internal strategic fit impacted business performance over a 7 year period.

Findings

The findings suggest aligning systems with market needs does not improve performance. Instead, firms serving low cost markets should first focus managers’ attention on processes and centralise resources around key processes, before reducing process flexibility and automate as many steps as possible to develop a low cost capability that is difficult to imitate. By contrast, firms serving differentiated markets should first focus managers’ attention on customers and then locate resources near them, before increasing customer contact with their processes and making them more flexible so they can develop customer knowledge, relationships and services that are difficult to imitate.

Research limitations/implications

Some significant factors may not have been considered as the study only looked at the impact of 14 internal strategic fit variables on 7 performance variables. Also, the performance changes may not be a direct result of the strategic fit improvements identified and may not generalise to other service organisations, settings and environments.

Practical implications

The strategic fit-performance relationships identified and the “fitness ladder” frameworks developed can be used by organisations to make decisions about how best to improve fit given their different market needs, business strategies and performance objectives.

Originality/value

The findings offer more clarity than previous research about how internal fit impacts business performance for low cost and differentiated services.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 37 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 21 February 2018

Yu Gong, Fu Jia, Steve Brown and Lenny Koh

The purpose of this paper is to explore how multinational corporations (MNCs) orchestrate internal and external resources to help their multi-tier supply chains learn…

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3069

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how multinational corporations (MNCs) orchestrate internal and external resources to help their multi-tier supply chains learn sustainability-related knowledge.

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory multiple case study approach was adopted and three MNCs’ sustainable initiatives in China were examined. The data were primarily collected through 43 semi-structured interviews with managers of focal companies and their multi-tier suppliers.

Findings

The authors found that in order to facilitate their supply chains to learn sustainability, MNCs tend to orchestrate in breadth by internally setting up new functional departments and externally working with third parties, and orchestrate in depth working directly with their extreme upstream suppliers adopting varied governance mechanisms on lower-tier suppliers along the project lifecycle. The resource orchestration in breadth and depth and along the project lifecycle results in changes of supply chain structure.

Practical implications

The proposed conceptual model provides an overall framework for companies to design and implement their multi-tier sustainable initiatives. Companies could learn from the suggested learning stages and the best practices of case companies.

Originality/value

The authors extend and enrich resource orchestration perspective (ROP), which is internally focused, to a supply chain level, and answer a theoretical question of how MNCs orchestrate their internal and external resources to help their supply chains to learn sustainability. The extension of ROP refutes the resource dependence theory, which adopts a passive approach of relying on external suppliers and proposes that MNCs should proactively work with internal and external stakeholders to learn sustainability.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 38 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2002

Tom Watson, Steve Osborne‐Brown and Mary Longhurst

Consumers are increasingly demanding and less tolerant of organisations that fail to live up to their expectations. Organisations are expected to change their approach to…

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3225

Abstract

Consumers are increasingly demanding and less tolerant of organisations that fail to live up to their expectations. Organisations are expected to change their approach to business, giving the same priority to all stakeholders, with integrity and commitment. This means that the traditional approach to issues management where organisations “decide” on their plans, “dictate” them to stakeholders, and prepare their “defence”, will no longer be adequate. Issues Negotiaion™ offers business leaders a powerful alternative that builds trusting relationships, turning potentially negative issues into competitive advantage. It is a process that supports the organisation in its long‐term growth.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 7 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Soldering & Surface Mount Technology, vol. 16 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0954-0911

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Article
Publication date: 4 January 2013

Steve Brown

The aim of this series of papers is to offer key insights from eminent professors or practitioners within the field of Operations Management. This is the second of a…

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1714

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this series of papers is to offer key insights from eminent professors or practitioners within the field of Operations Management. This is the second of a series of interviews with “Operations Masters” and future contributions will include a range of inputs from manufacturing and services, private and public sectors. This series aims to provide an important contribution to the understanding of the strategic importance of operations management in a range of settings.

Design/methodology/approach

An interview with Professor Wickham, Emeritus Professor at Harvard Business School, a leading international figure in the field of operations management, whose contribution to operations manufacturing/strategy has been cited as seminal. The interview was conducted by Professor Steve Brown, Editor‐in‐Chief of International Journal of Operations & Production Management.

Findings

Wickham Skinner explains how he developed his reasoning behind his Harvard Business Review articles and books. He also describes how courses were developed at Harvard Business School to reflect the changing nature of business. He examines some of the challenges facing academics and practitioners alike in highly competitive, global business environments.

Originality/value

Professor Wickham Skinner is a leading international figure in the field of manufacturing and operations strategy. In this interview he offers key insights into how he first developed the notion of operations as a corporate concern. The message is highly relevant to academics and practitioners today.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 33 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 17 February 2012

Steve Brown

The aim of this series of papers is to offer key insights from eminent professors or practitioners within the field of Operations Management. This is the first of a series…

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1205

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this series of papers is to offer key insights from eminent professors or practitioners within the field of Operations Management. This is the first of a series of interviews with “Operations Masters” and future contributions will include a range of inputs from manufacturing and services, private and public sectors. This series will provide an important contribution to the strategic importance of operations management in a range of settings.

Design/methodology/approach

An interview with Professor Terry Hill, Emeritus Fellow at the University of Oxford, UK and a leading international figure in the field of operations management and operations strategy, conducted by Professor Steve Brown, Editor‐in‐Chief of International Journal of Operations & Production Management.

Findings

Terry Hill explains that his motive when writing his seminal book Manufacturing Strategy in 1985, which built on the work of Wickham Skinner, was to fill the gaps in both the language and concepts that comprise operations strategy, which would enable operations executives to exercise their strategic roles more fully. He goes on to describe the challenges that still exist in getting operations strategy onto the agenda in most companies and in the classroom. Finally Terry Hill makes recommendations for research which would help to elevate the strategic importance of operations.

Originality/value

Professor Terry Hill is a leading international figure in the field of operations management and operations strategy. In this interview he offers many insights into how this field has developed, both in business and in academia and highlights some of the challenges faced, particularly if research is to have real value in business.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 32 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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