Exploring deeper structures in manufacturing strategy formation processes: a qualitative inquiry
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explicate deeper structures in manufacturing strategy (MS) formation processes, in order to advance process understanding. This would be useful in identifying and nurturing appropriate forms of MS formation within specific organisational settings.
Design/methodology/approach – Nine case studies in the Australian metal products, machinery and equipment manufacturing sectors, guided by the grounded theory approach.
Findings – Deeper structures in MS processes represent linear and parallel, convergent and divergent, sequential and iterative progression of strategic initiatives across four broad phases identified as: initiation, consolidation, commitment and realization. The multiple progressions are explained by the nature of strategic initiatives, the causal relationships between the phases or modes and the influence of internal and external organisational contextual factors. The aggregate patterns are presented in the form of a conceptual model.
Research limitations/implications – The conceptual model needed to be tested with a large sample of data using statistical techniques to improve its external validity. Causal relationships explored in this study may be further strengthened using longitudinal qualitative studies.
Practical implications – The findings are grounded in empirical data. The model presented using simple formalisms is capable of providing rich insights in aggregate terms. As such, it is expected to hold a natural appeal to practitioners. If the findings can find their way into MS pedagogy, they can make a more substantial and progressive contribution to MS practice.
Originality/value – The findings of this study have corroborated and explained the findings of several recent studies that have uncovered alternative forms of MS formation. The deeper understanding of MS process developed in this study contributes to theory-building with the added significance that this study has successfully crossed the traditional analytical boundaries.