Practices and performances in the manufacturing industry - Using the qualitative comparative analysis on data from the Made in Finland longitudinal study
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School of Business | Master's thesis
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AbstractOnly a few longitudinal studies exist in the field of operations management (Kuula & Putkiranta, 2012) and only a few studies analyze the relationships between practices and performances (Davies & Kochlar, 2002). There are two main objectives in this master thesis. First, a scientific one: finding the practices or combinations of practices leading to a particular performance in the manufacturing industry. Data used in this master thesis come from the Made in Finland study, a subpart of the Made in Europe study. Those benchmarking studies gathered information about practices implemented and performances achieved in companies and looked at the links between them. Questions of the Made in Finland study were asked three times, in 1993, 2004 and 2010, in Finnish manufacturing companies, by members of the Helsinki School of Economics and IBM consultants. The Made in Finland study is then a longitudinal one. Second, a methodological one: utilizing the qualitative comparative analysis in order to satisfy the first objective. Results, presented as simple equations, are found with the fsQCA software. This analysis, suggested by C. Ragin in 1987, combines advantages of both qualitative and quantitative methods, uses the formal rules of Boolean algebra and allows systematic comparisons of cases. Before getting any results, it was important to read articles about benchmarking, practices and performances in order to understand the theory, to examine the context of the Made in Finland study in order to know its goals and to learn the methodology of the qualitative comparative analysis in order to use the fsQCA software. Results were the following: - In 1993, a combination of good levels of the practices equipment layout, housekeeping, manufacturing strategy and vision leads to a good level of the performance employee morale. - In 2004, three combinations of good levels of the practices automation and batch sizes or automation and manufacturing strategy or training and education, batch sizes and manufacturing strategy lead to a good level of the performance production cycle time. - In 2010, two combinations of good levels of the practices automation or quality vision and shared vision, mission and goals lead to good level of the performance customer delivery commitments met. - In 1993, a combination of good levels of the practices housekeeping, maintenance and vision leads to a good level of the performance customer satisfaction. - In 2010, three combinations of good levels of the practices batch sizes and design process or information systems, housekeeping and suppliers or information systems, batch sizes and suppliers lead to a good level of the performance customer satisfaction. - In 2010, three combinations of good levels of the practices kanban, business processes and design process or kanban, business processes, quality vision and batch sizes or business processes, quality vision, batch sizes and design process lead to a good level of the performance product reliability in service. - In 1993, two practices at a good level, customer orientation or training and education, lead to a good level of the performance market share. Those results are the best obtained results not necessarily the best results, because all possible combinations of practices were not tested and methods were used to facilitate that testing process. Indeed, similar coverage and consistency values could be found with other combinations of different practices while higher ones with, even slightly, different combinations of different practices. Those results, particularly the most recent ones from 2010, could be seen as propositions of improvement for companies. However, combinations of practices leading to a particular performance can change over time. This evolution can be seen with longitudinal studies as the Made in Finland study. Practices become obsolete, basic or irrelevant or they are combined differently to lead to the performance. And, even if practices from a combination are present, the performance can be absent. Indeed, relationships between practices, adoption order and levels of implementation matter and should be investigated. Components of practices should also be further studied in order to determine their exact importance in the link between practices and performances.
benchmarking, manufacturing industry, Finland, practices, performances