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On the versatility of Little’s Law in operations management: a review and classification using vignettes

Potter, Andrew Thomas ORCID:, Towill, Denis and Gosling, Jonathan ORCID: 2020. On the versatility of Little’s Law in operations management: a review and classification using vignettes. Production Planning and Control 31 (6) , pp. 437-452. 10.1080/09537287.2019.1647363

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Despite Little’s Law being considered as one of the ‘laws’ of operations management, evidence of its application in an empirical context is diverse and diffuse. Hence, this paper aims to identify, classify and consolidate published empirical applications of Little’s Law in a systematic manner to better understand its versatility. This paper undertakes a systematic literature review of the databases of the five main publishers of operations management journals and snowball sampling for additional papers. A final sample of 128 empirical journal articles is identified and categorized. Tactical, medium-term decisions relating to capacity dynamics and operations re-engineering are the most popular categories. To give further insights into versatility, vignettes for each category are developed. The review and vignettes confirm Little’s Law as a highly relevant paradigm to operations management decisions due to its empirical versatility across levels, sectors and time domains. The paper suggests four factors to underline the empirical versatility of Little’s Law in operations management: applicability, utility, simplicity and visibility.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0953-7287
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 July 2019
Date of Acceptance: 30 June 2019
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 10:04

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