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The Impact of Mass Customisation on Manufacturing Trade‐offs


  • Brian Squire
  • Steve Brown
  • Jeff Readman
  • John Bessant


Management literature has suggested that the advent of mass customisation marks the end for trade‐offs between customisation and other competitive priorities (Pine et al. 1993; Westbrook and Williamson 1993; Tu et al. 2001). However, evidence supporting this proposition is anecdotal. This paper examines the impact of product customisation on four competitive priorities, drawing upon the results of a recent survey of 102 U.K. manufacturing firms from eight industry sectors. The study indicates significant compatibility between customisation and quality, volume flexibility, delivery reliability and non‐manufacturing costs. On the other hand, trade‐offs remain between customisation and manufacturing costs and delivery lead times. The results contradict the initial proposition that customisation can be “free,” and have important implications for firms embarking upon a mass customisation strategy.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Squire & Steve Brown & Jeff Readman & John Bessant, 2006. "The Impact of Mass Customisation on Manufacturing Trade‐offs," Production and Operations Management, Production and Operations Management Society, vol. 15(1), pages 10-21, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:popmgt:v:15:y:2006:i:1:p:10-21
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1937-5956.2006.tb00032.x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Suresh Kotha, 1995. "Mass customization: Implementing the emerging paradigm for competitive advantage," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(S1), pages 21-42.
    2. Westbrook, Roy & Williamson, Peter, 1993. "Mass customization:Japan's new frontier," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 38-45, March.
    3. Roth, Aleda V. & Miller, Jeffrey G., 1992. "Success factors in manufacturing," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 73-81.
    4. Da Silveira, Giovani & Borenstein, Denis & Fogliatto, Flavio S., 2001. "Mass customization: Literature review and research directions," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 1-13, June.
    5. Berman, Barry, 2002. "Should your firm adopt a mass customization strategy?," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 51-60.
    6. C.-H. Sophie Lee & Anttesh Barua & Andrew Whinston, 2000. "The Complementarity Of Mass Customization And Electronic Commerce," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 81-110.
    7. Charles H. Fine & Arnoldo C. Hax, 1985. "Manufacturing Strategy: A Methodology and an Illustration," Interfaces, INFORMS, vol. 15(6), pages 28-46, December.
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