IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

How to organise operations: Focusing or splitting?


  • Hill, Alex


The concept of focus has been proposed as a method for operations to achieve superior performance by concentrating its resources on accomplishing one strategic task. Since its development by Skinner [1974. The focused factory. Harvard Business Review May-June, 113-121], it has become a key element within the operations strategy field. Despite the high level of adoption and investigation into the subject, there still seems to be little empirical support for the focus concept [Vokurka, R.J., Davis, R.A., 2000. Focused factories: empirical study of structural and performance differences. Production and Inventory Management Journal 41(1), 44-55] and a feeling that we still do not adequately understand its application in industry [Ketokivi, M., Jokinen, M., 2006. Strategy, uncertainty and the focused factory in international process manufacturing. Journal of Operations Management 24(3), 250-270]. This case-study-based research paper examines three organisations, that have organised their operations using four different approaches, to understand the advantages and disadvantages they bring. The findings show that some approaches (process and product/market) do not fully reduce the level of complexity within operations, whilst others do (market order-winner and qualifier/performance objectives). It is therefore proposed that some approaches should be re-classified as "splitting" rather than "focusing."

Suggested Citation

  • Hill, Alex, 2008. "How to organise operations: Focusing or splitting?," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(2), pages 646-654, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:proeco:v:112:y:2008:i:2:p:646-654

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. van der Vaart, Taco & Wijngaard, Jacob, 2007. "The contribution of focus in collaborative planning for make-to-order production situation with large set-up times," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1-2), pages 436-443, July.
    2. Shafer, Scott M. & Oswald, Sharon L., 1996. "Product-focused manufacturing for strategic advantage," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 24-29.
    3. M. Hossein Safizadeh & Larry P. Ritzman & Deven Sharma & Craig Wood, 1996. "An Empirical Analysis of the Product-Process Matrix," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(11), pages 1576-1591, November.
    4. Jeffrey G. Miller & Aleda V. Roth, 1994. "A Taxonomy of Manufacturing Strategies," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(3), pages 285-304, March.
    5. Thomas Brush & Aneel Karnani, 1996. "Impact of Plant Size and Focus on Productivity: An Empirical Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(7), pages 1065-1081, July.
    6. van der Vaart, Taco & van Donk, Dirk Pieter, 2004. "Buyer focus: Evaluation of a new concept for supply chain integration," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 21-30, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:proeco:v:112:y:2008:i:2:p:646-654. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.