In order to compete with other organizations, a company must convert its resources (materials, labor, money, information…) into goods or services as efficiently as possible. An operation manager is the upper-level manager who directs this transformation process. The job of operations management may not be obvious; it consists of all the activities involved in transforming a product idea into a finished product, as well as those involved in planning and controlling the systems that produce goods and service. Operations management is a discipline that applies to restaurants as well as factories or to any virtually productive enterprises, which is why it has its own importance as well as other fields like marketing for example. How to manage operations in a changing global economy?
We will take a look at the heritage of operations management, the changes and the consequences on the way operations management is operated nowadays. As a result of increasing awareness, corporate social responsibility became an important issue nowadays that is why the other main subject we will discuss will be ethics and social responsibility. How do operations managers face it?
I- History of Operations Management
Even though Operations management is a young field; its history can be described as rich and interesting. Several innovations and contributions from numerous individuals have enhanced its story. Within the people that should be remembered in OM history, we will first take a look at Eli Whitney who invented one of the greatest engineering inventions: interchangeable parts. In every country, the predominant industry was agriculture, but with Whitney’s new concept, several countries evolved from this type of economy to an industrial economy. Taylor is the one that changed people’s approach to manufacture by introducing a scientific view. He was a pioneer of personnel selection, planning or scheduling. His goal was to find the best way to produce, by for example assigning the right job to each employee, to provide a proper training, proper work methods or tools. Henry Ford learnt from the past and created his own principles like for example mass production manufacturing. The moving assembly line was revolutionary concept which is still use nowadays even though things have improved. The idea was to bring materials to the men, which was time effective. After Taylor, other scientists like Franck Gilbreth or Henry Gantt developed their own principles of management.
It is good to know that all those changes were done with the sole intention of cost effectiveness. Before 1980 the main concern for companies was to produce. Then they became conscious that they should do more to improve their quality like the features or others characteristics. As we move on, operations management has progress thanks to the contributions of other disciplines, we will know take a look at those changes.
II- The majors changes in operations management
Undoubtedly, an operation manager performs a challenging job. They operate in an exciting environment which is confronted to ever-changing like the globalization of world trade. During the past year, we notice that we moved from local and regional focus to global focus. This is due to the progress in communication and transportations costs. Because those were low cost, it became easier to communicate all around the world. The world became smaller and people started to trade whatever the distance. Resources like capital or raw materials or even labor were also global. Everything became global so is OM. In a global context, cultural and individuals differences immerged. As a result of, customization was everywhere. Managers had to adapt themselves, so we moved from a low-cost standard product to mass customization. The way they considered human factor also changed. We all remembered how Charlie Chaplin described workers in...