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Article
Publication date: 3 September 2018

Heidi Dreyer and Torbjørn H. Netland

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 38 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 22 August 2019

Torbjørn H. Netland, Daryl John Powell and Peter Hines

There is convincing evidence that companies need a special form of leadership to succeed with lean transformations. The general advice for lean leaders, however, is often…

Abstract

Purpose

There is convincing evidence that companies need a special form of leadership to succeed with lean transformations. The general advice for lean leaders, however, is often obvious or unrealistic. The purpose of this paper is to propose and discuss specific lean leadership practices for top-managers, middle managers and front-line managers.

Design/methodology/approach

In this conceptual paper, the authors draw on their rich experience from researching, leading and consulting in lean transformations in a large number of firms.

Findings

Leaders must adapt lean leadership practices to their hierarchical levels. This paper provides a framework to understand and debate lean leadership at different levels of the organisational hierarchy.

Originality/value

This paper demystifies lean leadership by offering a discussion of specific lean leadership practices at different hierarchical levels. The paper offers a new perspective for researchers studying lean leadership behaviours and contains helpful advice for firms seeking lean transformations.

Details

International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-4166

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Article
Publication date: 14 January 2021

Torbjørn H. Netland, Jason D. Schloetzer and Kasra Ferdows

Why some assembly factories implement a lean program faster than others is an enduring puzzle. We examine the effect of a fundamental characteristic of every assembly…

Abstract

Purpose

Why some assembly factories implement a lean program faster than others is an enduring puzzle. We examine the effect of a fundamental characteristic of every assembly factory—its rhythm of production.

Design/methodology/approach

We designed a multi-method study and collected data from a leading global equipment manufacturer that launched a lean program across its factory network. We use quantitative data gathered from internal company documents to test our hypothesis that production rhythm affects the pace of lean implementation. We then analyze qualitative data from interviews and factory visits to derive theoretical explanations for how production rhythm affects lean implementation.

Findings

Consistent with our hypothesis, we present evidence that factories with faster production rhythms implement lean faster than those with slower rhythms. This evidence is consistent with learning theories as well as the literature on organizational routines and forms of knowledge. We propose a theory of the relation between rhythm and learning in lean implementation.

Research limitations/implications

The hitherto unexplored relation between production rhythm and lean implementation raises intriguing questions for scholars and ushers new insights into how organizations learn to implement lean.

Practical implications

Organizations need to calibrate their expectations for lean implementation pace when their factories have widely different production rhythms and find ways to mitigate any adverse effects slower rhythms may have. Organizations can alleviate the unfavorable context of slower rhythms by inculcating practices in the factory that emulate the learning environment present in faster-paced factories.

Originality/value

We contribute novel quantitative and qualitative evidence that production rhythm affects lean implementation through learning-based mechanisms.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 41 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 27 May 2020

Rafael Lorenz, Christoph Benninghaus, Thomas Friedli and Torbjørn H. Netland

Manufacturers seek to innovate and improve processes using new digital technologies. However, knowledge about these new technologies often resides outside a firm's…

Abstract

Purpose

Manufacturers seek to innovate and improve processes using new digital technologies. However, knowledge about these new technologies often resides outside a firm's boundaries. The authors draw on the concept of absorptive capacity and the literature on open innovation to explore the role of external search in the digitization of manufacturing.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors developed and distributed a survey to manufacturing firms in Switzerland, for which 151 complete responses were received from senior managers. The authors used multiple linear regressions to study the relations among the breadth and depth of external search, firms' adoption of digital technologies and operational performance outcomes.

Findings

External search depth was found to relate positively to higher adoption of computing technologies and shop floor connectivity technologies. No significant correlation was found between external search breadth and firms' adoption of digital technologies. Regarding performance outcomes, there is some evidence that increased adoption of digital technologies relates positively to higher volume flexibility, but not to increased production cost competitiveness.

Practical implications

Manufacturing firms that aim to digitize their processes can benefit from inbound open process innovation, but its utility varies for different clusters of digital technologies. Generally, the findings suggest that firms should build strong ties with a few external knowledge partners rather than surface relations with many.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the growing literature on the digitization of manufacturing with an analysis of the relation between firms' external search and their adoption of digital technologies. It adds early empirical insights to the literature on open process innovation.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 40 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 23 November 2020

Oliver Flaeschner, Marian Wenking, Torbjørn H. Netland and Thomas Friedli

In this paper, the authors empirically investigate under which conditions production network management is effective to improve manufacturers' financial performance. For…

Abstract

Purpose

In this paper, the authors empirically investigate under which conditions production network management is effective to improve manufacturers' financial performance. For this, the authors explore contingencies between production networks and the three key dimensions of organizational environment.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey with senior managers was conducted for this research. The authors used a hierarchical regression analysis to test interaction effects and draw on follow-up interviews with chief operating officers (COOs) and senior managers to elaborate and explain the found associations.

Findings

Results indicate that manufacturers' financial performance is only associated with their network capability level if they operate in hostile competitive environments. In moderate competitive environments, improvements in the network capability level are not associated with greater financial performance. In particularly munificent environments, such production network upgrades are even associated with the opposite effect.

Practical implications

Results highlight in which organizational contexts upgrading production networks has positive performance implications and under which circumstances it is ineffective or even counterproductive.

Originality/value

The authors draw on unique survey data to add quantitative evidence to the predominantly conceptual and qualitative literature on global production networks. This is also one of the first studies to connect the topics of production networks and organizational environment.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 41 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 4 March 2014

Torbjørn H. Netland and Ebly Sanchez

How can multinational companies become more productive on a global scale? The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether a production improvement programme can…

Abstract

Purpose

How can multinational companies become more productive on a global scale? The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether a production improvement programme can improve quality performance in a global network of factories. Specifically, the paper analyses the effects of the Volvo Group's production improvement programme on global quality performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The research approach is a case study of the Volvo Production System (VPS). The paper analyses the effects of the programme on global quality performance, using data from an implementation audit and a questionnaire survey. The paper triangulate the analysis with longitudinal quality performance data from three different plants.

Findings

The paper finds a significant and strong positive relationship between implementation of the VPS and improvements in both process quality and product quality. Hence, the paper suggests that tailored production improvement programmes have clear positive effects on global quality performance.

Research limitations/implications

As with all case studies, the paper should use caution when generalising beyond the specific case. However, the Volvo Group is a broad and diversified corporation, which mitigates this limitation.

Originality/value

While many studies have investigated the effect of production improvement programmes on performance, very few have looked at the effect of a corporate multi-plant programme. This study represents one of the first attempts to do so. The paper also provides a case description of the VPS that readers might find valuable in its own right.

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Article
Publication date: 25 February 2014

Torbjørn H. Netland and Arild Aspelund

To advance the productivity of all plants in the network, multinational corporations develop and deploy multi-plant improvement programmes. In this paper, the authors…

Abstract

Purpose

To advance the productivity of all plants in the network, multinational corporations develop and deploy multi-plant improvement programmes. In this paper, the authors systematically review and synthesise the emerging literature on multi-plant improvement programmes. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a systematic manual search, the authors examine 15 top journals from operations management, general management and international business literature in the time span between 1998 and 2011.

Findings

The authors found 30 papers that specifically deal with operational improvement programmes in a multi-plant international setting, of which only nine take a headquarter perspective. This low number contrasts sharply with the magnitude and importance of such programmes in industry. The authors discuss key dimensions that explain how multi-plant improvement programmes result in the adopting, adapting, acting or avoiding of programme practices in subsidiaries and propose a related research agenda.

Research limitations/implications

The authors affirm that a new field is in the making, with IJOPM as the leading professional journal. Further empirical research is called for, but particular methodological caution must be paid to the phenomenon of acting in subsidiaries.

Originality/value

No coherent stream of research has addressed multi-plant improvement programmes. This paper represents a focused review that supports the further development of the field.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 34 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2013

Torbjørn H. Netland and Arild Aspelund

In order to improve competitiveness on a global scale, multinational enterprises increasingly develop a company-specific production system (XPS) and deploy it in their…

Abstract

Purpose

In order to improve competitiveness on a global scale, multinational enterprises increasingly develop a company-specific production system (XPS) and deploy it in their worldwide operations. An XPS is synonymous with a tailored corporate-wide improvement programme. The purpose of this paper is to explore the circumstances under which an XPS can provide a competitive advantage.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses an explorative case study methodology to investigate the link between the establishment of an XPS and competitive advantage. Specifically, the paper investigates the part of the Volvo Group's globally implemented Volvo production system (VPS) that aim to improve the manufacturing processes worldwide. Due to its historical trajectories, Volvo constitutes a unique case for studying the trend and effects of XPS. The resource-based view of the firm provides the theoretical foundation for the analysis.

Findings

The paper concludes with four research propositions. P1: In industries with widespread XPS implementation, an XPS is a necessary resource for achieving competitive parity; P2a: Early-starters get an instant temporary competitive advantage; P2b: Late-starters can achieve a temporary competitive advantage if they implement an XPS at a faster speed than competitors; and P3: An XPS can provide a sustainable competitive advantage if it has a superior fit with other path-dependent resources in the organisation.

Research limitations/implications

The paper proposes an updated VRIO model, which is better suited for understanding the relations between an XPS and competitive advantage. The major limitation of the study is the single-case design, which complicates generalisation from the VPS to an XPS of the propositions set forward.

Originality/value

Despite the significant trend in modern operations management, XPSs have received remarkably limited attention from academia except for the Toyota Production System. Presumably, this is the first paper to discuss the recent trend of XPS and its contribution to competitive advantage.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 33 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Alexandra Lagorio, Roberto Pinto and Ruggero Golini

The last decades have witnessed an increased interest in urban logistics originating from both the research and the practitioners’ communities. Sustainable freight…

Abstract

Purpose

The last decades have witnessed an increased interest in urban logistics originating from both the research and the practitioners’ communities. Sustainable freight transports today are on the political, social and technological agenda of many actors operating in urban contexts. Due to the extent of the covered areas and the continuous progress in many fields, the resulting body of research on urban logistics appears quite fragmented. From an engineering management perspective, the purpose of this paper is to present a systematic literature review (SLR) that aims to consolidate the knowledge on urban logistics, analyse the development of the discipline, and provide future research directions.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper discusses the main evidence emerging from a SLR on urban logistics. The corpus resulting from the SLR has been used to perform a citation network analysis and a main path analysis that together underpin the identification of the most investigated topics and methodologies in the field.

Findings

Through the analysis of a corpus of 104 articles, the most important research contributions on urban logistics that represent the structural backbone in the development of the research over time in the field are detected. Based on these findings, this work identifies and discusses three areas of potential interest for future research.

Originality/value

This paper presents an SLR related to a research area in which the literature is extremely fragmented. The results provide insights about the research path, current trends and future research directions in the field of urban logistics.

Details

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, vol. 46 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-0035

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 May 2020

Maricela C. Arellano, Cristina Sancha, Torbjørn Netland and Cristina Gimenez Thomsen

In pursuit of increased competitiveness, global manufacturers often seek tighter integration among the plants in their production networks. However, this is a challenging…

Abstract

Purpose

In pursuit of increased competitiveness, global manufacturers often seek tighter integration among the plants in their production networks. However, this is a challenging task because plants are dispersed across multiple institutional environments. Although the literature provides abundant evidence of how formal institutional environments affect the integration among plants, little is known about the role of the informal institutional environment – such as culture. In this study, the authors investigate the relationship between different dimensions of culture and manufacturing network integration.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors combine survey data from the most recent International Manufacturing Strategy Survey with secondary data that capture cultural dimensions. They then analyze the responses from 581 assembly plants in 21 countries obtained from the survey using a multilevel regression model.

Findings

The study results show that plants located in masculine and long-term-oriented national cultures are associated with lower levels of integration with other plants. The results for the other four Hofstede dimensions of national culture were not statistically significant. At the level of organizational culture, the authors found that a collaborative plant environment positively relates to higher levels of network integration. They did not find statistically significant evidence for the relationship between cultural or geographical distance and network integration.

Practical implications

This research provides managers with practical insights into the types and combinations of cultural environments that affect the integration of plants in a global network. This knowledge is useful for informing effective integration strategies and tactics.

Originality

The authors provide new, empirical evidence of the relation between the informal institutional environments of a plant and its integration in a manufacturing network. Drawing on an institution-based view, they contribute to the literature on manufacturing networks by discussing and testing empirically the role of national and organizational culture in network integration.

Details

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

Keywords

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