Exploring deeper structures in manufacturing strategy formation processes: a qualitative inquiry

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Copyright: Kiridena, Senevi Bandara
This thesis reports on an empirical investigation into manufacturing strategy (MS) formation in practice. The broad objective is to advance the understanding of MS processes through constructing consistent patterns in decision-making and action-taking relating to the manufacturing structure and infrastructure of the organisations studied. Using a combined "Grounded Theory - Case Study" approach, nine organisations within the metal products, machinery and equipment manufacturing sectors in Australia were studied, in order to address the following research questions: How are competitive priorities arrived at and translated into decisions and actions regarding the manufacturing structure and infrastructure? What are the consistent patterns of manufacturing strategy formation within specific organisational contexts and why those patterns exist that way? Qualitative data gathered through interviews conducted with the management staff - based on the sequences of events, actions and decisions, as well as other broader aspects of MS - were analysed by means of progressive coding. The themes, relationships and conceptual schemas emerged through the coding process are presented using narratives and graphical displays. The overall findings are presented in aggregate terms using a conceptual model, supplemented by several theoretical propositions. Deeper structures in MS processes represent linear and parallel, converging and diverging and sequential and iterative progression of strategic initiatives across four major phases identified as initiation, progression, commitment and realisation. The multiple modes of initiation, alternative paths of consolidation and differing forms of commitment and realisation are explained by the nature of strategic initiatives, the causal links between the modes themselves and the influence of certain organisational contextual factors. When enfolded in extant literature, these findings make two major contributions. First, apart from corroborating the complex and dynamic nature of MS formation in practice, they explicate the underlying patterns and alternative forms of MS formation. Second, they demonstrate some causal relationships between alternative forms of MS formation and certain contextual factors. These insights would inform future research, leading towards the development of a plausible mid-range theory of MS processes. They would also help practitioners to better understand the dynamics of MS formation and to nurture appropriate forms of MS formation within specific organisational settings.
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Kiridena, Senevi Bandara
Hasan, Maruf
Kerr, Roger
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PhD Doctorate
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