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Configuring the strategic orientation of manufacturing firms for economic sustainability: a study of the UK touring caravan industry

Lynch, Jane ORCID: 2015. Configuring the strategic orientation of manufacturing firms for economic sustainability: a study of the UK touring caravan industry. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The main purpose of this research is to examine the role of strategic orientation for effective supply chain management (SCM). A form of strategic orientation which focusses on a process-base, supply chain orientation (SCO) has already been established as a pre-requisite for SCM (Mentzer et al. 2001; Min and Mentzer, 2004, Esper et al. 2010) but as a key concept, SCO research is less developed than SCM. This research contributes to fulfilling this shortfall by identifying SCO as a multiple construct requiring the alignment of three other strategic orientations which are all function-based: purchasing orientation, marketing orientation and production1orientation. This study investigates why it is important for an organisation to retain a configuration, meaning an alignment of strategic orientation approaches, not just to rely on one approach. Existing studies have identified that individually, these three function-based strategic orientation approaches support the necessary flows, such as product, capital and information flows, within the organisation for effective SCO and SCM. To achieve SCO, Esper et al. (2010) acknowledged the importance of managing specific behaviours, such as cooperation and trust. This study examines how these behaviours form the organisational culture to create important linkages and dependencies between purchasing orientation, market orientation and production orientation that can contribute towards achieving SCO. Utilising a case study approach, empirical evidence was gathered between 2009 and 2015 from a single industry, the UK touring caravan manufacturing industry. The UK touring caravan manufacturing industry had not previously been the focus of an academic supply chain study, thus it provided an original platform to conduct the research. The initial data collection period was between 2009 and 2011, a time when manufacturing managers were facing a period of economic hyper-turbulence. During such times, senior managers of UK manufacturing organisations struggled to align the internal business strategy with the business environment which was being shaped by multiple challenging factors: hyper-competition, economic hyper-turbulence and globalisation. Thus, there was a need for managers to go beyond the strategy level and to re-examine the way their businesses were fundamentally orientated. Systems Theory (Biology), as a single theoretical approach, has been frequently applied in supply chain research. This research explores how in order to manage a system effectively, two additional theoretical pillars; Resource Dependence Theory (Strategic Management) and Resource Based View (Strategic Management), may be relevant. These theoretical lenses underpin the investigation which is framed by three research questions:  RQ1: How does supply chain orientation support supply chain management?  RQ2: How may supply chain orientation be applied as a strategic orientation?  RQ3: What is the role of strategic orientation? This research mainly builds on the SCO study by Esper et al. (2010), acknowledged in Chapter II as the first authors to conceptualise SCO. It contributes eight new research contributions, which are offered to further develop the understanding of SCO and the concept of strategic orientation: 1. The research offers a new Strategic Orientation Pyramid framework for better understanding the components of strategic orientation. 1 Production replaces operations in manufacturing context ii 2. A new Research Model improves understanding of the likely variables for measuring SCO. 3. There are new theoretical developments in understanding the relationship between SCO and SCM by defining the role of strategic orientation in the supply chain context. 4. The case study findings from this research suggest that optimally configuring and harmonising the firm's internal function-based strategic orientations is a pre-requisite for managing SCO as an antecedent for SCM in pursuing a more sustainable competitive advantage. 5. The research proposes that in order for the manufacturing organisation to manage its supply chain effectively through SCO, the purchasing, marketing and production functions should be seen as operating interdependently. The evidence from this research suggests that this interdependence MUST be supported by specific behaviours such as trust, commitment and cooperation amongst all employees from all three strategic business functions. 6. Building on the existing purchasing literature, the purchasing function is this research has been observed as being the first area to be adversely affected during periods of economic uncertainty. Therefore, in wider context of manufacturing, the purchasing function may need to be strategically elevated and aligned with marketing and production functions to support the firm’s SCO and SCM. This would become important when managers are forced to adapt their manufacturing strategy due to variations in demand levels which affects their management of the supply chain. 7. Case study findings indicate that strategic purchasing can play an important intermediary role in smoothing over the conflicting strategies between marketing and production. 8. Similarities are found between the manufacturer’s MRPII system and SCO in that the purchasing, marketing and production functions need to be strategically aligned and coordinated to enable effective strategic planning, forecasting, managing the supply chain, ordering of the materials and implementing caravan production for meeting customer demands. In addition to these theoretical developments, the research offers four methodological contributions and gives practical guidance for managers in understanding the important role of strategic orientation, which affects the organisation’s success or failure.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
T Technology > TS Manufactures
Funders: Cardiff Business School
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2022 09:26

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