A framework for analysing manufacturing flexibility

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


PurposeThe issue of manufacturing flexibility has been widely discussed in the literature. One major area of focus has been the development of taxonomies for flexibility. This paper aims to review the contributions in this area and to propose a new classification and a framework for analysing flexibility in manufacturing companies.Design/methodology/approachThe study adopts a case study methodology approach. The framework proposed is used to analyse the implementation of flexibility in four UK manufacturing plants in four major industrial sectors: electronics, process, household and general goods and food.FindingsFrom the empirical analysis, various enablers of flexibility are identified. These are classified into three broad sources of flexibility namely fundamental enablers, indirect enablers and generic enablers as well as flexibility avoidance strategies referred to as flexibility evaders.Practical implicationsThe implication is that a mix of flexibility solutions rather than a single solution may be the most appropriate way for delivering flexibility in an organisation. However, the drivers of the need for flexibility have to be correctly identified in order to determine the best solutions for delivering system flexibility.Originality/valueThe development of a refined framework for analysing manufacturing flexibility as well as the identification of various enablers of strategic flexibility are the major contributions of this paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-996
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Flexibility
  • Manufacturing industries
  • United Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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