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Title: Integrating multiple streams of operational improvements within a small company in pursuit of competitive supplier status
Author: Xiu, Changhao
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 593X
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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In order to sustain a competitive position in the international markets in which we trade my small manufacturing enterprise must improve its operational performance. How to effect such major performance improvements in a context of having limited resources to devote to a change programme is the research problem addressed within this thesis. A Literature Review was conducted allied to four areas of operational improvement: (1) satisfying target customers' quality requirements; (2) achieving competitive supplier status with target customers; (3) constructing an effective relationship with the organisation's suppliers; and (4) motivating employees for better performance. Whilst the literature review suceeded in identifying improvement practices in each of the four areas, the firm lacks the resources to initiate four separate streams of improvement activity. Therefore, the key methodological challenge of this DBA research was to integrate the four streams of knowledge from existing studies in order to effect a systemic improvement in operational performance. The research objectives were firstly, at a systemic level, to determine what and how management activities should be re-organised for sustaining high performance in the context of limited firm resources. The second objective, at the operational level, was to identify specific actions for improvement within the four areas noted above. Checkland's Soft System Methodology (SSM) was adopted as the action research methodology for my empirical work. This methodology is particularly suited to the research objectives as it involves a systemic evaluation of an operation whilst also enabling the identification of specific improvement actions. This thesis presents an evaluation of operational performance and the identification of actions for improvement that resulted from an application of SSM to my research problem. In addition, the impact on operational performance after six months is reported following the implementation of all the recommended actions. Implications of the study are drawn for management practice in contexts of small businesses like my firm, with limited resources for solving problems with different key stakeholders. Finally, reflections are offered on the impact of this research project for my own professional practice.
Supervisor: Ellwood, Paul ; Morales, Lucia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral