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Title: Agile merchandising of small and medium sized businesses : a European perspective
Author: Forsberg, Johanna Kristina Bergvall
ISNI:       0000 0001 3475 2436
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2008
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The European textile and clothing industry has been in long term dccline for many years now. Whilc larger retailcrs and production companies have movcd abroad to bcnefit from low labour rate sources of production, domcstic manufacturers have been left to cope with the changing markct conditions on their own. Despite their limitations in terms of time and access to financial resources, support for domestic manufacturers from morc influcntial market playcrs or government funded rcsearch projccts have been sparse. To addrcss the central conccrn of rcsponding to largc scalc imports from low cost labour ratc sources of production, thc purpose of this thesis is to idcntify a practical approach to added-value service pcrformance rcquircd for small and medium sized manufacturcrs (SMEs) to achieve long-term competitive advantage in thc European textile and clothing industry. The notion of compctitive advantage is derived from thc intcgration literaturc. By bringing internal processes closer togcther, companies are believed to achieve greater benefits in terms of production competency and customer satisfaction. However, as customer requirements have grown increasingly dcmanding, the concept of process integration has progressivcly developcd into a broad arca of rcsearch intcgrating business activitics across company borders. In incrcasing thc internal competitiveness of a firm, companics can no longer work in isolation from onc anothcr. I-Ience, the challenge facing today's busincsses, and SM Es in particular, is how thcy can link together to jointly create profitable value flows for all parties involved in the valuc chain process. Following a literature review in the areas of Supply Chain Managcment (SCM), Demand Chain Management (DCM), Yalue Chain Management (YCM) and lean and agile business practices, the concept of Agile Merchandising is introduced. Agile Merchandising reprcsents the inccntive to continuously plan and manage a collaborative supply and demand network in such a way that the valuc chain most likely to comply with the potential value expected by customcrs, suppliers, consumcrs, and stakeholders is accomplishcd. Thc theory is believed to complcte the gap bctween traditional cfficiency focused supply chain strategies and current market focused dcmand chain theories, cmphasising both internal production efficiency and supply chain erfcctiveiless. To its support its practical implementation in the industry, a conceptual dynamic framcwork is developed drawing on the gencric supply chain framcwork introduccd by Cooper el-- a!. (1997) and the agile supply chain framework developed by Christopher el al. (2004). - An interpretivist abductive rcsearch strategy is adopted to examine the rclevance of Agile Merchandising as a valuablc business practice and further develop thc conceptual dynamic framcwork li'om the lived experience of its participants. The two-stcp building approach to cmpirical investigation charactcrising the abductivc rescarch design allows the rcscarch to procced /i'om initial thcory dcvclopmcnt to more conclusive strategies building on a priori data and real-life obscrvations simultaneously. Finally, a rcasscssment of the devcloped thcory is rcquircd to improvc thc-quality of the dcrived findings. In this thcsis, thc initial theory development is undertaken using a dcscriptive case study design. Eleven European textile and clothing manufacturing SM Es based in England, Italy and Sweden are examined. The theoretical perspectives includcd in the conccptual dynamic /i'amcwork arc adapted according to' the analysis and interpretation of the case study data. As thc initial casc study confirmcd the relevance of the Agile Merchandising, a final assessment of thc dcrivcd thcory is undcrtakcn. Thc aim is to rcfinc thc practical implication of the dynamic research framcwork dcvclopcd. An exploratory case study of a UK furniture manu facturer conducted over a period of ten months is reportcd on and thc componcnts of the Dynamic Framework of Agilc Mcrchandising arc cstablishcd following an in-dcpth analysis of thc rcscarch model constructs. Thc rcscarch confirmed that thc components included in the Dynamic Framcwork wcrc valid. Howcver. to furthcr increase its practical relevance to the industry, a more detailed invcstigation in the arca of dcmand visibility and collaboration is required as a deficiency in thcsc paramctcrs would rendcr the success of the value chain exccution.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available