Manufacturing seniority, strategy and innovation
Technovation, 18, (3), . (doi:10.1016/S0166-4972(97)00123-5).
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The need to involve the manufacturing function in the process of new product development has already been argued by others. Many firms do not successfully link Innovation and Manufacturing. However, there has been little evidence forthcoming at plant level to demonstrate how Manufacturing's involvement in innovation helps to explain why some plants/divisions are better than others in new product development within the same industries. This paper looks at three key factors which help to explain differences in the speed and success of new product developments. The three factors are:
(1) the seniority of Manufacturing personnel within the firms;
(2) the involvement of these senior managers in the business, rather than being confined to the role of production/technology functional specialists -- this involvement includes being central to new product developments from early stages of the development process; and
(3) the contribution of a manufacturing strategy which feeds into, and forms part of, the overall business plan within the plant. Again, part of the manufacturing strategy in some firms is manifested in the central and major involvement of senior Manufacturing personnel in new product development.
This paper argues that these three factors help to maintain the strategic importance of new product development and, consequently, help to explain the subsequent performance of new product development within the manufacturing plant.
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