Agile or adaptable? Finding a paradigm for an uncertain world

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This paper looks at the way in which, over recent years, paradigms for manufacturing management have evolved as a result of changing economic and environmental circumstances. The lean production concept, devised during the 1980s, proved robust only until the end of the bubble economy in Japan caused firms to re-examine the underlying principles of the lean production paradigm and redesign their production systems to suit the changing circumstances they were facing. Since that time a plethora of new concepts have emerged, most of which have been based on improving the way that firms are able to respond to the uncertainties of the new environment in which they have found themselves operating. The main question today is whether firms should be agile or adaptable. Both concepts imply a measure of responsiveness, but recent changes in the nature of the uncertainties have heightened the debate about what strategies should be adopted in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-22
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Agile Manufacturing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

© 2003 IJAM


  • manufacturing management
  • economic circumstances
  • environmental circumstances
  • lean production concept
  • Japan
  • lean production paradigm
  • production systems
  • uncertaint
  • responsiveness


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