Competing on Manufacturing How combinations of resources can be a source of competitive advantage

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The most central question in the strategic management literature is why some firms are more successful than others, often expressed as an aim to understand sources of competitive advantage. In this thesis, an empirical observation is made that a number of manufacturing plants belonging to the same firm show sustainable differences in financial success, and the question is why. The main theoretical perspective by which this is investigated is the Resource-Based View (RBV), where resources are seen as the source of competitive advantage. However, in order to achieve a manufacturing focus, RBV is cross-fertilized with the concepts of manufacturing capabilities found in the theory of Manufacturing Strategy.

Most research in RBV focuses on how individual resources could be a source of competitive advantage, while the proposition of the present thesis is that a more meaningful unit of analysis ought to be combinations of resources. This view is elaborated on, and a framework is proposed for understanding how combinations of resources can be a source of competitive advantage in manufacturing.

The results illustrate the need for coordination of resources for them to be valuable. Coordination mechanisms proposed are 1) an intended strategy and 2) an orientation that allows both a production and a customer focus. Both coordination mechanisms are implemented by means of routines and communication. Such implementations require much time and effort, which is maintained to explain why it is hard to imitate a successful implementation of coordination mechanisms. These findings have some implications for managers, since the coordination mechanisms depend on their work.


  • Gunilla Nordström
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economics and Business


  • manufacturing, competitive advantage, manufacturing capabilities, strategic management, the Resource-Based View (RBV) combinations of resources, Social sciences, Samhällsvetenskaper
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • Malm, Allan T, Supervisor, External person
Award date2006 Dec 11
  • Institute of Economic Research
Print ISBNs91-85113-13-1
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2006-12-11 Time: 10:15 Place: The Crafoord Hall, Holger Crafoords Ekonomicentrum, Tycho Brahes väg 1, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Allen, Peter Title: Professor Affiliation: Complex Systems Management Centre, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University ---