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This book is intended as a tribute to Gianluca Spina, the influential and inspiring Professor of Business Management & Organization and Supply Chain Management at the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano, who very sadly passed away early in 2015. It brings together seven of his most important papers, published in renowned international journals, and supplements these papers with insightful commentaries from friends and colleagues who highlight key messages and values of enduring validity. The selected papers offer a clear sense of Spina’s research journey over the years and cover the main research streams that distinguished his work. They have also been chosen on account of their high impact, as reflected by the number of citations received, and to represent the most important research collaborations that Spina had established within Italy and abroad. An introductory chapter relates his research to major developments in the field of Manufacturing and Supply Chain Strategy and also outlines the very important contribution that Gianluca Spina made to Management Education.



Chapter 1. Gianluca Spina’s Contribution to Manufacturing and Supply Chain Strategy Research and Management Education

The chapter presents a professional profile of Gianluca Spina, summarizing his contribution to both research and management education. Gianluca’s research journey started in the field of manufacturing strategy, focusing on JIT first and then on innovative manufacturing paradigms. Subsequently he extended his interests to customer-supplier partnerships, focusing in particular on codesign, and supply chain management, with a focus on Internet technologies and global supply chains. Finally he concentrated on purchasing management, with a focus on purchasing strategy and the theoretical development of the discipline. His main traits as researcher are also presented. On the education side, Gianluca strongly contributed to the development of the Management Engineering degree at Politecnico di Milano during his whole career, and also at National Level as President of the Italian Association of Management Engineering. Besides, he has led MIP, the Business School of Politecnico di Milano, in its evolution from a small, local school to a large, international player, recognized and accredited by the main international institutions, capable of introducing significant innovations on the market. Finally, Gianluca’s legacy is presented.
Emilio Bartezzaghi, Raffaella Cagliano, Federico Caniato, Stefano Ronchi

Manufacturing Strategy and Paradigms


Chapter 2. The Impact of the Just-in-Time Approach on Production System Performance: A Survey of Italian Industry. A Review and Outlook

Just in Time (JIT), as a wide philosophy to manage and control production activities, has dominated the way industry is run in the last decades. In the original paper the authors performed an early study on this subject, recognizing the disruptive potential of this approach and proposing a solid framework for its analysis. From the one hand, they distinguished the overall managerial approach and philosophy from the specific techniques used to implement it. While the general approach is long lasting and widely generalizable, the specific techniques might be more contingent. On the other side, they studied the impact of JIT on two set of performance dimensions, the operating conditions and the external performance of the production system. Through a wide empirical evidence of Italian companies in the metalworking industry, the authors were able to show the ability of JIT to shift the trade-off between productivity and service. The commentary underlines that, although results are today outdated, the framework proposed by the paper is still very useful to study the evolution of JIT and its impact on performance. Also, the paper is valuable for its balance between scientific rigour and practical relevance.
Roberto Filippini, Cipriano Forza

Chapter 3. Strategically Flexible Production: The Multi-focused Manufacturing Paradigm. A Review and Outlook

In the Nineties companies were experiencing a number of different strategic and organizational models in running their manufacturing activities to overcome the limitations of the Fordist paradigm in the face of growing complexity and turbulence of the environment. Despite the differences, it was possible at that time to recognize few guiding principles that were common to the most advanced and effective models. In particular, the original paper summarized these principles in three: i) Multi-focusedness and strategic flexibility; ii) Process Integration; and iii) Process Ownership. This approach was called the Strategically Flexible Production. Using data from the International Manufacturing Strategy Survey, the authors were able to show the wide adoption of the paradigm across the sample and across all regions. It also tested the impact of the new paradigm on operational performance, showing better results obtained by those companies that fully adopted the paradigm compared to partial or non-adopters. The commentary underlines that after twenty years the value of this paper resides first of all in having challenged the established paradigms of manufacturing strategy at that time. Also, the paper was among the first ones to underline the value and importance of strategic flexibility and multi-focusedness for manufacturing companies. On both these aspects the paper has been an important platform for future work and for the evolution of the field.
Chris A. Voss

Chapter 4. Advanced Manufacturing Technologies and Strategically Flexible Production. A Review and Outlook

This Chapter discusses the key problem of integrating the use of advanced manufacturing technologies (AMTs) together with the change in the strategic and organizational approach to manufacturing in order to build superior capabilities, especially strategic flexibility and continuous innovation. In the original paper AMTs were analysed within the context of the Strategically Flexible Production (SFP). The use and effectiveness of various technologies and their computer-based integration were investigated in the light of the emerging paradigm. Data from the International Manufacturing Strategy Survey have shown that the use of integrating technologies varied much within the core adopters of the paradigm, suggesting that SFP did not necessarily require massive information technology support. However, SFP alone or combined with a higher level of integration of stand-alone AMT fostered increased time responsiveness. The commentary suggests that today very similar hypotheses to the ones tested in the original paper could be explored in relation to the currently emerging technologies, such as Industry 4.0 or Smart Factories. In particular we need to ask questions and test propositions around the need of alignment between today’s advanced technologies and work organization practices, and around the relative importance of technology compared to organization in building superior capabilities.
Harry Boer

Supply Chain and Purchasing Strategy


Chapter 5. A Model of Codesign Relationships: Definitions and Contingencies. A Review and Outlook

The original paper investigated, with a case study method, the different forms of co-design, i.e. the joint development of products and processes by customer and supplier. Four types of co-design are identified, according to the type of knowledge transferred (product or process) and the degree of interaction between the parties (loose or tight). Results show that the success of co-design depends on the fit between the type of relationship adopted and two contextual factors: the uncertainty of the design endeavour and the relational capabilities. The commentary highlights the original contribution at the time, in terms of both theoretical and methodological approach: the paper proposes a situational approach, showing the need to adapt the type of co-design to the context, and adopts a qualitative method, investigating four co-design projects within the same buying company. Research in this field has been rich in the subsequent years and this paper can be seen as a precursor of the relevance of the relational environment and the eco-system concept, widely adopted today to analyse innovation and product development.
Alberto De Toni, Guido Nassimbeni

Chapter 6. E-Business Strategy: How Companies Are Shaping Their Manufacturing and Supply Chain Through the Internet. A Review and Outlook

The original paper investigated, on a large sample of manufacturing firms, the adoption of Internet-based tools to support supply chain processes. Four strategies are identified, according to the level of adoption of e-commerce, e-procurement and e-operations. The four strategies are subsequently analysed according to contingent factors and supply chain integration mechanisms. Results show a clear relationship between the use of Internet-based tools and the adoption of integration mechanisms. The commentary shows that the paper has been widely cited in both operations, supply chain and ICT literature, recognizing its seminal contribution to the analysis of the impact of Internet technologies on supply chain processes, their relation with supply chain integration and their impact on performance. The research directions suggested in the original paper are discussed analysing the subsequent literature, including the replication studies performed by the original authors. The importance of investigating emerging topics, as well as observing their evolution over time, is highlighted.
Ann Vereecke, Matteo Kalchschmidt

Chapter 7. Logistics and Supply Chain Management in Luxury Fashion Retail: Empirical Investigation of Italian Firms. A Review and Outlook

The original paper investigated which is the role of operations and supply chain management in luxury fashion companies’ success. It presented the results of the exploratory stage of a research project carried out at Politecnico di Milano and dealing with supply chain management in the luxury fashion industry. In total, 12 Italian luxury fashion retailers were studied in order to describe the main features of operations and supply chain strategies in the luxury fashion segment and to identify their role with respect to the relevant critical success factors. After summarizing the key messages of the paper, the commentary note highlights three major contributions. First, the article sets the step from the old concept of luxury to the new concept of luxury, moving from the simple possession of the product to the delivery and consumer experience, strongly related to SCM activities. Second, the unit of analysis is not the single brand, product, or company, but the supply network overall, including a number of different actors. Third, the paper highlights how different supply chain configurations impact on the critical success factors depending on different contexts.
Pamela Danese, Pietro Romano, Andrea Vinelli

Chapter 8. Past, Present and Future Trends of Purchasing and Supply Management: An Extensive Literature Review. A Review and Outlook

The original paper aimed to evaluate the state of the art of Purchasing and Supply Management (PSM). This was carried out through an in-depth analysis of 1055 papers published in 20 peer-reviewed journals, providing a snapshot of PSM research. Other literature reviews related to PSM were conducted in the past but focused primarily on specific topics and/or considering a narrower set of publications. Furthermore, the authors defined a framework useful to analyse the PSM literature and outline the state of the art of PSM research from a content-specific perspective. The commentary note starts remembering the beginning of the International Purchasing Survey project (IPS), a wide and longitudinal research project initially conceived by the Italian PSM team at Politecnico di Milano, in which the team from Rotterdam played a crucial role since the beginning. The note focuses then on methodological strengths and areas of improvement of the presented literature review. Finally, three key research contributions are highlighted: the in-depth analysis of the use of existing theory in PSM papers, the useful classification of PSM contents in existing research studies, and the multidisciplinary approach that might further open PSM research to be published in non-PSM journals in the future.
Finn Wynstra


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