Flexibility

Topics: Strategic management, Management, Firm Pages: 1 (317 words) Published: September 16, 2013
Flexibility has been defined in different ways by different authors. Adopting an operational view, Nagarur (1992) defines flexibility as “the ability of the system to quickly adjust to any change in relevant factors like product, process, loads and machine failure”. At macro level, Flexibility can be defined as an absorber of environmental uncertainty and variability (Gerwin, 1993; De Toni and Tonchia, 1998; Beach et al, 2000). Research in the area of operational management cites flexibility as a strategic imperative that will enable firms cope up with uncertainty (Gerwin, 1987) and (Sethi and Sethi, 1990). De Toni and Tonchia (1998) provide two general perspectives on flexibility: flexibility as a filter, and flexibility as a dampener. As a filter, flexibility is an uncertainty absorber, which shields a firm from external disturbances and provides them internal stability in the face of exogenous changes through homeostatic mechanism. Thus, flexibility provides a notion of adoptability with the ability to preserve a degree of integrity and coherence in external volatile environment to the organisations. Further Sanchez (1995) suggested that flexibility is constrained not only by resources but also by the method of the use of the resource as also suggested by the Resource based view (RBV) of the firm. Thus strategic flexibility view suggests that a firm can achieve competitive advantage by creating strategic flexibility in the form of alternative course of action available to the them (Sanchez, 1993). Strategy is about aligning a company with its environment. Porter (1980) in his article “five forces that shape strategy” argued that to sustain long-term profitability firms must respond strategically to the competition. Hence, a firm’s success depends on the attractiveness of the industry as well as the firm’s relative position in that particular industry. Porter (1979) proposes that four additional competitive forces can hurt firms’ prospective profits. Savvy...
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