The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

The Dynamics Involved with Manufacturing Capabilities Towards a Competitive Advantage

Sari Vehtari

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management for public examination and debate in Auditorium AS1 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 10th of November, 2006, at 12 noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-8391-3)   [962 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-8390-5)


The electronics industry has seen strong innovation, severe price competition, and entry and exit of competitors. The fast changes within the industry can cause much uncertainty in the markets, making it more difficult to stay on top. The life cycle management assumes that what you focus on today will change and require different approaches to be successful in the future. The life cycle model can be used to describe the evolution of processes and of an industry. It is suggested that each phase of the life cycle would require different capabilities and focus from a company and its operations.

The questions: "How do manufacturing capabilities and performance contribute to business performance?" and "Will certain competitive advantages be enough when business situations change fast?" have inspired this research. The main aspect of the study was to study the combination of the manufacturing capability development and theory of life cycles. The main longitudinal case was selected within the telecommunications industry. This particular case study provided an understanding of manufacturing capability development in three different phases of life cycle. The single longitudinal case was supported by three other well-known cases also from the electronics industry.

The research results are summarized into propositions for capability development. The research confirmed that requirements for manufacturing capabilities change along the business life cycle. The business life cycle model can be used as a tool to predict needed change in capability development. It can provide a practical understanding as to how capabilities need to change along the business life cycle. Manufacturing can contribute to the competitive advantage of the company particularly during the transition phases. The operational innovation and ability to shape the future is needed especially prior to entering the growth phase or when looking for new growth. The strategic flexibility and ability to adapt are especially required prior to entering the maturity phase.

Keywords: manufacturing capabilities, competitive advantage, life cycle, operational innovation, strategic flexibility

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© 2006 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26