AbstractManufacturing industry is facing a dramatic transition; many enterprises find themselves caught in rapidly changing and intensified competition structures with increasing pressure to develop innovative solutions in ever shorter cycles. This issue presents a massive threat for component manufacturers today, as it suggests that excellence of technical components is no longer a guarantee of maintaining market position. One way of addressing this challenge, which is investigated within this study is mode switching - evolution into the next product hierarchy, namely moving from the development and manufacturing of sole components,towards the supply of more complex systems.
An initial review of the extant literature revealed a gap. To date no research had examined mode switching into an advanced product hierarchy, highlighting best practice or key considerations, from a real life business perspective. Moreover, the understanding of component, module and system had not been defined
consistently in the current literature.
To address this gap, this research focused on providing a professional real life view, representing a comprehensive perspective of ´mode switching from component manufacturer to system supplier´. In addition, this research applied a practical approach in developing a conceptual framework to support companies that are evolving to the next product hierarchy, while also compiling a novel definition of component and system in an applied context. A qualitative multiple case study approach was adopted based on interviews. In total, 24 face-to face semi-structured interviews were conducted to glean senior management views from original equipment manufacturers, component manufacturers,system suppliers, academia, and business consultants.
This thesis contributes to knowledge and practice in four ways: fundamental, methodological, normative and conceptual. The fundamental contribution is a knowledge matrix, which is an extensive information base concerning mode switching to an advanced product hierarchy. The methodological contribution is an aspect model and the advancement of the 4Ps innovation model.The normative contribution to knowledge and practice provides new understanding with reference to product hierarchy and its subdivision into component and system. The conceptual contribution of this thesis is the development of a conceptual framework which will provide a significant and effective resource for companies concerned evolving into the next product hierarchy.
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