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Title: Investigation of enablers and inhibitors to the flow of materials in different operations contexts
Author: Harrison, Alan
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 1997
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The operations management literature presents a burgeoning array of so-called new wave manufacturing' strategies that are aimed at reducing throughput time and waste. Much of the evidence has been practitioner-inspired, and has a tendency to anecdote and promotion at the expense of thoroughness and objectivity. Boundary conditions which define the circumstances under which these new concepts are appropriate or inappropriate as part of a manufacturing strategy are neither well documented nor well understood. Meanwhile, the literature in organisational behaviour has developed separately and independently from the literature in operations management, and the two subjects tend to talk past each other. There is a need better to understand the technical and social aspects of the new concepts, so that the more fragmented claims on the one hand can be distinguished from the over-generalised claims on the other in the context of a operating system. The research design that was developed to address such issues comprised the simultaneous collection of qualitative and quantitative evidence from two units of analysis in two contrasting case study contexts. These were the final assembly process of a automotive manufacturer, and a manufacturer of polypropylene lm. Common research methods were used in each. Qualitative studies addressed the social issues of implementing new wave concepts, using a Japanese-inspired humanware model which addresses the interface between machinery and human relations across six categories. Quantitative studies collected evidence using five instruments to probe technical aspects of implementing the new concepts. In both types of study, the notion of enablers was used to direct attention to phenomena that speeded up or slowed down the flow of materials. By simultaneously applying qualitative and quantitative methods within the same operating contexts, integrated and self-consistent conclusions could be drawn by triangulating the evidence. The Comparison between the two contrasting contexts then provided further conclusions regarding features of the implementations which were particular to context, and features that appeared to be more general in nature. The research concluded that the contribution of the new concepts should be viewed in the light of tradeoff enablers (which create advantage in one area only to cause offsetting disadvantage in another), best practice enablers (which create advantage in any operations situation), and specific enablers (which create advantage only in given operations situations). These enablers can be applied to both technical and social aspects of the new wave, strategies: they also have offsetting negative characteristics which have been referred to as inhibitors.
Supervisor: New, Colin. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available