Developing company improvement models for particular countries/company types

To be able to compete globally, export more goods overseas and increase the market share of the company are common aims of many different types of organisation.

This has led to improvement programmes under many banners such as World Class Manufacturing; Total Quality Management and Lean Thinking. All of these programmes have led to great success stories. For example, Toyota is often quoted as a firm that has achieved success through the implementation of Lean Production. Many models have been developed to help other companies achieve similar success, but these are usually general, universalistic, models that tend to make certain assumptions about the type of company, the country of origin and the cultural background of the employees.

Therefore there are many research opportunities to develop models for particular types of company or countries that have not been studied in detail to date. Two Ph.D students have recently successfully completed research in this area. The first considered Thai culture and its impact on the implementation of computing planning and control software. Two companies in Thailand were used as case studies for this research. There is scope for similar research in other countries or to extend this research into other aspects of Supply Chain Logistics in Thailand. The second developed a performance improvement model for Make-to-Order SMEs, manufacturing companies that make unique products for each customer. Six case study companies in the UK were used to gather data for this study. There is scope to develop this work further by converting the model into a workbook that could be used by company personnel without expert intervention. Research of this type could also be carried out for other industries or countries.

In addition, a recent PhD student has studied the aerospace industry, working with British Aerospace to consider how this larger company can sustain its competitive edge.

There is scope for more PhD students to join this field, which offers opportunities to get involved in research of relevance to current companies aiming to maintain and improve their competitive advantage.

Selected references in this area:

Hendry L.C. (1998), Applying World Class Manufacturing to Make-to-order companies: Problems and solutions, International Journal of. Operations and Production Management, 18(11), 1086-1100.

Hendry L.C. and Muda S. (2002), Proposing A World Class Manufacturing Concept For The Make-To-Order Sector, International Journal of Production Research, 40(2), 353-373.

Muda S. and Hendry L.C. (2002), Developing a new world class model for small and medium sized make-to-order companies, International Journal of Production Economics, 78(3), 295-310.

Muda S. and Hendry L.C. (2003), The Shen model for MTO SME's: a performance improvement tool, International Journal of Opertions and Production Management, 23(5), 470-486.

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