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The relative advantages of flexible versus designated manufacturing technologies

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  • Norman, George

Abstract

This paper analyzes the choice between flexible and designated manufacturing technologies given that firms are allowed to determine how flexible the manufacturing system should be. We allow firms to operate a mix of technologies, using a flexible system to serve some types of consumer submarkets and a designated technology to serve others and allow firms to offer multiple products even if they commit to the designated technology. We show that for flexible systems to be preferred they must offer strong economies of scope and must be capable of producing, without significant cost penalties, customized products that are largely indistinguishable from custom-built products. By contrast, we show that an increase in submarket size and an increase in the willingness of consumers to pay for particular types of products encourages the use of designated technologies targeted at these submarkets.
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Suggested Citation

  • Norman, George, 2002. "The relative advantages of flexible versus designated manufacturing technologies," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 419-445, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:32:y:2002:i:4:p:419-445
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hamilton, Jonathan H. & Thisse, Jacques-Francois & Weskamp, Anita, 1989. "Spatial discrimination : Bertrand vs. Cournot in a model of location choice," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 87-102, February.
    2. MacLeod, W.B. & Norman, G. & Thisse, J.-F., 1988. "Price discrimination and equilibrium in monopolistic competition," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 429-446.
    3. Lars-Hendrik Röller & Mihkel M. Tombak, 1993. "Competition and Investment in Flexible Technologies," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(1), pages 107-114, January.
    4. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
    5. Motta, Massimo & Norman, George, 1996. "Does Economic Integration Cause Foreign Direct Investment?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(4), pages 757-783, November.
    6. Norman, George & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 1999. "Technology Choice and Market Structure: Strategic Aspects of Flexible Manufacturing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 345-372, September.
    7. Eaton, B Curtis & Schmitt, Nicolas, 1994. "Flexible Manufacturing and Market Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 875-888, September.
    8. MacLeod, W.B. & Norman, G. & Thisse, J.-F., 1988. "Price discrimination and equilibrium in monopolistic competition," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 429-446.
    9. Chang, Myong-Hun, 1993. "Flexible Manufacturing, Uncertain Consumer Tastes, and Strategic Entry Deterrence," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 77-90, March.
    10. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1995. "The Economics of Modern Manufacturing: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 997-999, September.
    11. Rowthorn, R E, 1992. "Intra-industry Trade and Investment under Oligopoly: The Role of Market Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(411), pages 402-414, March.
    12. Anderson, Simon P & Neven, Damien J, 1991. "Cournot Competition Yields Spatial Agglomeration," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(4), pages 793-808, November.
    13. David M. Kreps & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1983. "Quantity Precommitment and Bertrand Competition Yield Cournot Outcomes," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 326-337, Autumn.
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    Cited by:

    1. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2007. "Complementarities in automobile production," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(7), pages 1315-1345.
    2. Chisholm, Darlene C. & Norman, George, 2004. "Heterogeneous preferences and location choice with multi-product firms," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 321-339, May.
    3. Kwon, Chul-Woo, 2013. "An optimal production method for penetrating foreign markets: Standardization, localization, and flexible technology," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 398-406.
    4. Joon Lim, 2009. "Strategic Choice of Manufacturing Flexibility in Intermediate Goods Markets," Korean Economic Review, Korean Economic Association, vol. 25, pages 91-104.
    5. Moutinho, Ricardo & Au-Yong-Oliveira, Manuel & Coelho, Arnaldo & Manso, José Pires, 2015. "Beyond the “Innovation's Black-Box”: Translating R&D outlays into employment and economic growth," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 45-58.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics

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