Managerial Focal Points in Manufacturing Strategy

Arnoud De Meyer, Singapore Management University
Kasra Ferdows, INSEAD


Through analysis of specific decisions in the management of manufacturing in 163 companies, we have identified the key dimensions along which mort of the differences among manufacturing strategies can be explained. Previous research—mostly based on clinical observations—has focused on describing the typical decision categories in manufacturing strategy. Our large sample has allowed us to move beyond that and focus on the differences among manufacturing strategies. Data were collected by mailed questionnaires as a part of a large research project ‘Manufacturing Futures’. The responses to a list of 35 specific current action programmes in manufacturing were reduced through a principal component analysis to eight factors. We have labeled the factors as action flexibility, changing role of workforce, quality, information systems, upkeep of existing systems, re-sizing the structure, automation, and product-process adjustments. We interpret them as the dimensions which reflect the focal points of attention of management as judged from implemented manufacturing strategies. On the basis of this analysis, we recommend explicit management attention to eight questions while formulating a manufacturing strategy.