As a consequence of shortening product life cycles, increasing
demand for product customi-zation, and globalization pressure,
manufacturing companies are facing a dramatic change of their
business environment. Especially the companies in Western
countries—known for their high quality products but also
high-cost production—are facing an increasing competition from
so called low-cost countries. As a result, Western companies seem to
face a trade-off dilemma by being forced to focus on enhancing their
overall efficiency and flexibility at the same time.
From a theoretical perspective, this simultaneous focus on quality, flexibility, dependability, and cost management has been declared a contradiction by the trade-off theory. However, this theory has also been disproved by various authors, declaring that it is perfectly possible that companies compete successfully with multiple competitive priorities at the same time. These authors developed various typologies describing different ways companies compete, but the question how exactly firms implement a multiple strategic focus has been left unan-swered. Therefore, identifying so called hybrid strategies in a manufacturing context and de-scribing the capabilities needed for successful hybrid strategy management forms the subject of this research. By further analyzing the relations between the different organizational capa-bilities required, an explanation for the successful implementation of hybrid strategies is ex-pected.
To get an initial understanding about which types of hybrid manufacturing strategies exist, a quantitative analysis with a sample of 64 companies will be conducted as a first step. It will lead to a representative typology of hybrid manufacturing strategies. For a further in-depth investigation about the organizational capabilities necessary for successful hybrid strategy management, a qualitative approach is applied: First, an explorative case study analysis with 4 companies will bring out the different capabilities which are relevant and required. Second, to get the understanding about the interdependencies between these capabilities, the methods of causal network diagrams are used. This explorative approach leads from a description model to an explanative one.
Due to the fact that existing research hasn’t answered the questions how companies cope with multiple competitive priorities simultaneously, the explanative model of hybrid manufac-turing is theory building. Besides closing a research gap, the research will also lead to managerial implications: The identification of capabilities which are required to successfully bring hybrid manufacturing strategies into action allows a result transfer back to the compa-nies which seem to face a trade-off dilemma.
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