The right time and place: strategic positioning for competitive manufacture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasingly in the UK, companies that have traditionally considered themselves as manufacturers are being advised to now see themselves as service providers and to reconsider whether to have any production capability. A key challenge is to translate this strategy into a selection of product and service-centred activities within the company's supply chain networks. Strategic positioning is concerned with the choice of business activities a company carries out itself, compared to those provided by suppliers, partners, distributors and even customers. In practice, strategic positioning is directly impacted by such decisions as outsourcing, off-shoring, partnering, technology innovation, acquisition and exploitation. If companies can better understand their strategic positioning, they can make more informed decisions about the adoption of alternative manufacturing and supply chain activities. Similarly, they are more likely to reject those that, like off-shoring, are currently en vogue but are highly likely to erode competitive edge and business success. Our research has developed a new concept we call 'competitive space' as a means of appreciating the strategic positioning of companies, along with a structured decision process for managing competitive space. Our ideas about competitive space, along with the decision process itself, have been developed and tested on a range of manufacturers. As more and more manufacturers are encouraged to move towards system integration and a serviceable business model, the challenge is to identify the appropriate strategic position for their organisations, or in other words, to identify their optimum competitive space for manufacture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-15
Number of pages4
JournalManufacturing Engineer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004


  • strategic positioning
  • competitive space
  • service providers
  • supply chain networks
  • structured decision process


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