A strategic model of operational performance improvement
Performance improvement is the natural objective of any intervention in the organisation. Performance improvement in operational terms is particularly interesting when it is able to influence the competitive position of the firm. By being able to deliver superior value and/or offer prices through lower costs a firm will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty and potentially increase its market share and profitability. This research explores the determinants of strategic operational performance improvement, the particular questions we address are: 1) What characterise the process in which the firm achieves operational performance that is strategically significant?, and 2) Why once advantage is achieved, it is not automatically replicated? The manufacturing strategy model and the literature associated with the resource-based theory provide the theoretical foundations of this work, although the link between the two literatures is problematic because their fundamentals are usually at odds. Because the nature of the work is exploratory, and its purpose is one of theory building, we build a model of strategic operational improvement through grounded research. Four case studies are studied and analysed in order to test and improve the model. The results provide a number of insights on the role of managerial rationality, managerial behaviour, and the relationship between managerial and workers behaviour. We are also able to address a number of questions on the nature of strategy in operations. The final product of this thesis is model that relates the processes in the organisation to the firm's initial conditions to explain the evolution of performance. Empirical evidences suggest that the strategic improvement of operational performance depends on the sequence evolution of initial conditions, managerial behaviour, and organisational behaviour. It is argued that by understanding the relationships in this model it is possible to develop more effective operations processes which are able to deliver superior value and or lower costs.