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The people dimension in manufacturing strategy: operators and managers
Chalmers University of Technology, Department of Technology Management and Economics, Operations Management.
2013 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Text
Abstract [en]

The manufacturing strategy (MS) field has largely focused on the MS content, and not so much on the people dimension of MS or on the process of bringing the MS out in organizations. Within companies, there is often a lack of a joint view of MS; different hierarchical levels view the strategy differently. There is a need to ensure a joint view within companies to assure strategic commitment. The MS falls short if the ideas it incorporates do not materialize into practice as intended. Therefore, this research originated in the idea that the people in manufacturing companies seldom have their voices heard in strategic discussions or in academic debate. In this thesis, individuals’ perceptions of MS are the focus. Hence, the purpose is to investigate operators’ and managers’ perceptions of MS in order to understand possibilities for a joint view of MS. This research was conducted through three studies. Two empirical studies collected data through interviews with operators and managers at Swedish metalworking small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The third study was theoretical and included a literature review where MS literature was analyzed from a behavioral operations (BO) perspective. The findings show that the people dimension in MS is not well developed. Theoretically, a gap exists between the view on people adopted in the BO field and the view on people in the MS literature. In the MS literature there are indicators of a deterministic view of human nature; individuals on the shop floor are viewed as manufacturing resources. Empirically, the findings show that operators’ and managers’ perceptions of MS are affected by many factors. These factors are, e.g., related to intra- versus inter-organizational MS dimensions, the operators as individuals, communication of MS, differences between CEOs and production managers, shift work, and mental distances between hierarchical levels. This research contributes to the work with MS at manufacturing companies by categorizing factors that influence movement towards a joint view of MS. Further, this research contributes to a developed people dimension within the MS field. It offers a viewpoint that indicates the importance of addressing operators and managers as individuals and to viewing the connection between operators and managers a bilateral relationship rather than as a unilateral link. This implies that this thesis strives for a more subjectivist approach to human nature than what traditionally has been the case in MS literature.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Chalmers University of Technology , 2013.
Keyword [en]
Manufacturing strategy, Behavioral operations, People, Operators, Managers, Strategic consensus
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-30078OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-30078DiVA: diva2:931596
Available from: 2016-06-01 Created: 2016-05-30 Last updated: 2016-06-01Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Production-related Staff's Perception of Manufacturing at a SMME
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Production-related Staff's Perception of Manufacturing at a SMME
2012 (English)In: Procedia CIRP, ISSN 2212-8271, Vol. 3, 340-345 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Today's global competitiveness urges SMMEs to pay attention to their MS process. The purpose of this case study at a Swedish SMME, mainly conducted through interviews with production-related staff: staff with direct connection to everyday production work, is to explore their perception of the MS content. The study shows that communication is the main obstacle for production-related staff's perception of the MS. Their perception is diverse and based on a multitude of factors, such as employment period, organizational belonging, and the employee's own interest. Several problem areas are identified and need to be investigated further.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2012
Keyword
Manufacturing strategy, SMME, Case study, Organizational learning, Staff perception
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-20130 (URN)000314630700058 ()2-s2.0-84879192440 (ScopusID)
Conference
45th CIRP Conference on Manufacturing Systems 2012
Funder
VINNOVASustainable Production Initiative
Available from: 2012-12-20 Created: 2012-12-20 Last updated: 2016-06-01Bibliographically approved
2. Strategic concensus in SMEs: Behavioral operations perspective on manufacturing strategy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Strategic concensus in SMEs: Behavioral operations perspective on manufacturing strategy
2013 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Previous manufacturing strategy studies have to a limited extent incorporated the people dimension emphasized in behavioral operations field. This paper aims at empirically examine the link between management’s and operators’ perceptions of MS, i.e. vertical and horizontal strategic consensus within the operations function, from a behavioral operations perspective. Interviews with both managers and operators at three Swedish metalworking SMEs were conducted. The results show, in comparison to earlier research, a higher level of strategic consensus. Strategic consensus is primarily seen within the intra-organizational dimensions. Lack of consensus seems to primarily be caused by poor communication about strategic objectives and long term plans. The paper, by emphasizing the people dimension of manufacturing strategy, contributes to increased knowledge about strategic consensus at SMEs and the importance of strategic commitment and strategic consensus for a successful MS process. 

Keyword
Strategic consensus, behavioural operations, manufacturing strategy, SME
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-28514 (URN)
Conference
22nd International Conference on Production Research, Iguassu Falls, Brazil
Available from: 2015-12-08 Created: 2015-12-08 Last updated: 2016-06-01
3. Manufacturing strategy in a behavioral operations perspective: The people dimension
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Manufacturing strategy in a behavioral operations perspective: The people dimension
2013 (English)In: Proceedings for the 20th International Annual EurOMA Conference, Operations Management at the Heart of the Recovery, 7-12 June 2013, Dublin, Ireland, 2013Conference paper (Refereed)
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-30075 (URN)
Conference
20th International Annual EurOMA Conference, Operations Management at the Heart of the Recovery, 7-12 June 2013, Dublin, Ireland
Available from: 2016-05-30 Created: 2016-05-30 Last updated: 2016-06-01Bibliographically approved

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Edh, Nina
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