Operation Strategies Case Study

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International Journal of Production Research
Vol. 48, No. 14, 15 July 2010, 4179–4198

The impact of inclusive and fragmented operations strategy
processes on operational performance
Steve Browna*, Brian Squireb and Mike Lewisc
a
School of Business, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter EX4 4PU, UK; Decision Sciences and Operations Management, Manchester Business School, Booth Street West, Manchester, M15 6PB, UK; cSchool of Management, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK

b

(Received 18 June 2008; final version received 2 April 2009) The links between strategy and performance remains an elusive ‘holy grail’ for researchers and practitioners alike. We do not seek to provide a prescriptive panacea in this paper but we find links between particular types of strategic formulation and operations performance in a range of key parameters. Our research focuses on the personal computer industry where there are high demands placed on the capabilities of the operations function. We suggest that such capabilities do not happen by accident but are developed by specific strategies whereby in-house operations and business mainstream strategies, including supply, become closely linked in both planning and implementation. Keywords: operations; strategy; performance

1. Introduction
This paper examines the relationship between the process and content of operations strategy within firms and plant performance in a range of operations parameters. Further, the paper examines the explicit links between business mainstream and operations strategies within firms by exploring the strategy formulation process and possible links between this relationship and subsequent operations performance. Although there is a substantial body of work that explores the links between operations strategy (OS) and a range of performance outcomes (Tunalv 1992, Kathuria and Partovi 2000, Rhee and ¨

Mehra 2006) there is more ambiguity in establishing links between how OS is formulated and operational performance. There is an OS process literature (e.g., Skinner 1969, 2007, Hill 1985, Platts and Gregory 1990, Mills et al. 1995, Menda and Dilts 1997, Brown 1998, Barnes 2001, 2002, Slack and Lewis 2007) but it remains a minority research interest (Dangayach and Deshmukh 2001) and one that is predominantly conceptual (Anderson et al. 1991, Brown and Blackmon 2005) or ‘follow[s] Skinner’s prescriptive intent’ (Barnes 2002, p. 1091). In sum, empirical investigations of the link between how organisations formulate operations strategy – both in terms of process and content – and subsequent operations performance represent a significant research opportunity, which we explore in this paper.

*Corresponding author. Email: Steve.Brown@Exeter.ac.uk
ISSN 0020–7543 print/ISSN 1366–588X online
ß 2010 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/00207540902942883
http://www.informaworld.com

4180

S. Brown et al.

Finding links between strategy formulation and ‘success’ remains one of the ‘holy grails’ (Golden and Powell 2000, Kaplan and Norton 2004) within the strategy literature. We do not seek to provide a panacea but believe that this paper will provoke interest and potential for further research on the links between strategic operations planning and performance.

Clearly, to assume that there will be a linear relationship between strategy formulation and consequent success is suspect (Mintzberg et al. 2000). However, to assume also that a set of dynamic capabilities (Teece et al. 1997) will be in place purely ‘by chance’ both within the firm and with partners within complex networks is also a problematic proposition (Brown and Blackmon 2005). This paper does not pretend to provide specific links between generic strategy formulation and subsequent performance but does purport to find links between particular types of strategic formulation and performance. This paper is constructed as follows. In the next section we discuss some of the key issues...
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