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2015 | Book

Systemic Flexibility and Business Agility


About this book

This book provides a conceptual framework for systemic flexibility and business agility, drawing on a basis of research/case applications in various types of flexibility and agility in business. The selected papers address a variety of issues concerning the theme of systemic flexibility and business agility and are organized into following five parts: (i) Systemic and Strategic Flexibility; (ii) Information and Business Agility; (iii) Flexibility, Innovation and Business Excellence; (iv) Flexibility in Value and Supply Chains; and(v) Financial Flexibility and Mergers & Acquisitions.

Flexibility and agility in business are emerging as key dimensions of business excellence that encompass the requirements of both choice and speed. The two concepts, flexibility and agility, have been used in multiple ways and often interchangeably, both in literature and in practice. The growing need for flexibility/agility in business can be seen from reactive as well as proactive perspectives. A business enterprise is expected to possess reactive flexibility/ agility (as adaptability and responsiveness) in order to cope with the changing and uncertain business environment. It may also endeavor to intentionally generate flexibility/agility as a strategic change in a variety of ways, such as leadership change, reengineering, innovation in products and processes, use of information and communication technology, and learning orientation.

Table of Contents


Systemic and Strategic Flexibility

1. Diverse Shades of Flexibility and Agility in Business
Flexibility and agility in business relate with the dimensions of choice and speed at various levels in the conduct of the business. These are required in view of changing business situation, customer needs, market dynamics, competition, and so on. On the other hand, it is facilitated by new organizational designs (structure and processes), leadership, new technology, business innovations, and empowered people. The chapter is intended to clarify multiple perspectives associated with flexibility and agility in conduct of business in a global setup. This objective is achieved through a review of the literature as well as practice. The multiple connotations identified through such a review are clustered into dominant dimensions of flexibility and agility. A total interpretive structural modeling (TISM) of these flexibility/agility dimensions is carried out to identify their relationships for building a conceptual framework. This is then illustrated by a number of case examples around the identified dimensions and relationships.
2. New Research Perspectives on Managing Diversity in International ICT Project Teams
International information and communication technology (ICT) projects cause various challenges for project managers in distributed and intercultural teams. Besides geographic distance or different time zones, cultural differences and other diversity aspects impact the success of ICT projects. Although international project management standards cover intercultural projects, approaches towards diversity management are not methodically included.
This chapter critically reviews existing concepts and approaches to managing diversity and cultural factors in ICT projects. It will be suggested how to extend current concepts in order to manage diversity aspects in ICT projects more flexibly, individually, and effectively. This leads to new perspectives for further research. In particular, theories on diversity and culture and their impact on business practices are examined. Further, the concept of “national cultures” is critically reviewed. Furthermore, possible options for embedding diversity management in project management methodologies are discussed and new research strategies on the level of individual team members are suggested.
Christina Böhm, Renate Motschnig-Pitrik
3. Elements of Flowing Stream Strategy Crystal for Telecom Service Providers
The telecommunication service provision business is highly competitive the world over. This makes strategy formulation a challenge for the sector. A new approach, that the continuity aspect of the organization ought to be managed concurrently with change forces to obtain the strategic objectives related to enterprise and customer, is gaining ground in management literature. This chapter deals with determination of micro variables related to these four aspects of strategy formulation, i.e., continuity forces, change forces, enterprise factors, and customer factors. After identifying continuity and change forces as well as strategic enterprise and customer factors relevant to the telecom service sector from the literature, these are statistically verified. For this, response from senior telecom service sector executives to a structured questionnaire is elicited and analyzed. The chapter goes on to give, in brief, application of these variables in strategy formulation steps using “flowing stream strategy crystal” concepts.
S. B. Khare
4. Interaction of Continuity and Change Forces and E-Government Performance
Continuity and change forces have traditionally been hailed as mutually exclusive. Of late, there is a growing interest in the concept of “confluence of continuity and change,” i.e., managing continuity and change simultaneously. In fact, researchers across domains have highlighted the need for managing both concurrently as a means for better performance. E-government, as a domain, has witnessed tremendous action over the past decades and is subject to continual change, yet it is fraught with continuity issues like preexisting culture, mind-set, and delivery mechanisms which come in the way of effective change, resulting in a dismal performance.
This chapter is an attempt to empirically demonstrate that managing continuity and change forces simultaneously (i.e. their interaction) result in better delivery of strategic deliverables of e-government projects, than when managed separately. For this, the relationship between the interaction of continuity and change forces affecting e-government projects is tested for possible impact on their performance. Results indicate a positive linkage, thus, calling for a flexible approach to strategically manage continuity and change forces for better outcomes.
Saboohi Nasim
5. Development of Flexible Strategy Game-card: A Case Study
Scorecards developed by the companies all over the globe faced a lot of criticism, and the researchers and practitioners realized a need to look beyond the scorecard. Many developments happened in this direction, out of which one of the attempts made to propose flexible strategy game-card, which intends to support the whole cycle of strategy formulation and execution and emphasizes the concept of game-card rather than scorecard. This chapter makes an attempt to develop a flexible strategy game-card for a case company. This case study has been developed in the context of one of the Indian telecom service-providing firms. The game-card has been developed, and an attempt has been made to draw the comparisons of the game-card with the scorecard, which highlights how the game-cards can be helpful to overcome some of the limitations of the scorecard. The outcome of the study is to present the practical application of this evolving performance management framework, which helps to demonstrate the mechanism for the development of game-card to the body of knowledge related to strategic performance management.
Neetu Yadav, Sushil
6. Flexible Strategy Game-card Framework for Effective Strategy Execution
The past two decades have been characterized by increasing pace and complexities of change and, therefore, pose innumerable challenges for organization success. Flexibility has emerged as the prime response to such a turbulent situation. The focus of flexibility has been more on strategy formulation, although it is more critical in strategy execution. The “flexible strategy game-card” is an integrative framework of seamless strategy formulation and execution. This study is an attempt to empirically test the “flexible strategy game-card” framework and demonstrates how flexibility in the execution variables leads to better organization performance from the perspectives of both the enterprise and customer. The execution variables have been identified on the basis of literature review and discussion with the corporate practitioners. The self-administered questionnaire is used for the empirical study. Finally, this chapter discusses the managerial implications of the research findings and suggests future scope of research.
Amit Srivastava, Sushil

Information and Business Agility

7. Strategic Flexibility in Exploiting Economies of Scope on 70–30 Principle: A Case Study of Japanese Electronics Industry
The tripod consisting of the USA, EU, and Japan has advanced to the matured market economy from the growing market economy. In the growing market economy, the economies of scale prevail. In contrast, in the matured market economy, consumers are interested in acquiring goods and services to fit their particular needs, demanding a variety of products and services in small quantities. Accordingly, the advantage of the economies of scale tends to diminish. In order to overcome this difficulty, the authors claim that the 70–30 principle becomes extremely important, where products and services for separate segmented submarkets are designed 70 % in common with the remaining 30 % for customization. The purpose of this chapter is to identify the emerging trend of the 70–30 principle in Japan and to examine its effectiveness for strategic flexibility and business agility.
Ushio Sumita, Jun Yoshii
8. Developing Personal Flexibility as a Key to Agile Management Practice
Flexible and agile management methods require one to react to change at any time of a project’s lifecycle. This calls for a high degree of flexibility in organizations, tools, and, in particular, people. This contribution proposes a humanistic educational offering that aims to help persons, regardless of their cultural background, to develop selves that are gradually more flexible and devoid of rigid mental models often standing in the way of meeting others openly. By quoting students’ reactions, it will be illustrated how an experiential person-centered approach can contribute to developing more openness to experience, acceptance, and understanding of the other and of new situations. Even though this development needs time and repeated experience to unfold, consequences for business, education, and human resource development are evident and will be discussed.
Renate Motschnig-Pitrik
9. Flexibility in E-learning through Knowledge Management Practices: A Case Study
There has been a growing interest among academic institutions in collecting, preserving, and creating value-added services of digital contents produced during classroom teaching. The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) portal plans to build on the existing initiatives to create a national-level repository of knowledge content. The objective of this study is to determine the extent to which the NPTEL portal is successful in creation, sharing, and transfer of knowledge to its viewers in India and abroad. NPTEL is the initiative of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Government of India, to utilize the educational technology tools for the enhancement of the engineering learning process. This chapter deals with knowledge transfer through the NPTEL e-learning web portal. A conceptual approach to the modeling of the value proposition of the NPTEL knowledge portal has been discussed in this chapter. Modeling and mapping of value propositions help in better understanding of the services offered by the Indian Institutes of Higher Learning in Technologies (IHLTs) to its stakeholders. It also analyses the extent to which the e-learning portal is successful in knowledge transfer to the knowledge seekers across the globe through strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) and situation, actor, and process (SAP)learning, action, and performance (LAP) analysis. Adopting a case-based approach, the fieldwork of this research is based on the responses of 2323 engineering students, faculty members, and serving engineers across the globe who are regular viewers of the NPTEL portal from time to time.
Kalyan Kumar Bhattacharjee, Ravi Shankar, M. P. Gupta
10. Examining the Influence of Flexibility of Processes on E-Governance Performance
Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-based solutions are increasingly being explored by governments across the globe for improving their internal functioning and strengthening interfaces with stakeholders. The phenomenon is popularly termed as e-governance in India. Government system comprises multiple organizations with specific mandates and stakeholders to deal with. Efforts to infuse ICT in government functioning are generally directed at existing processes. Efficient e-governance, however, requires redesigning of organizational as well as cross-organizational level work processes. For maximizing value to users from e-governance efforts, governments need to assign high priority to process improvement. The chapter aims at examining ‘flexibility of processes’ and ‘performance of e-governance’ by using statistically validated constructs. Flexibility of processes is measured in terms of ‘options’, ‘change mechanisms’ and ‘adaptability to situations’. E-governance performance is viewed as value accruing in terms of ‘efficiency’, ‘transparency’, ‘interactivity’ and ‘decision support’ in the context of the study which is based on selected agriculture related e-governance projects in India.
P. K. Suri
11. Workflow Automation Process for a Reinsurance Company Using BPM Tool: A Stakeholder Engagement Perspective
This chapter describes the stakeholder engagement methodology applied for the design and development of a workflow automation process for an accounting system in the reinsurance domain, using a business process management (BPM) tool. The BPM tool offers a workflow solution, which can be customized and managed. The workflow comprises services, tools, and screens to provide the required assistance to the stakeholders.
This is a case of a reinsurance company automating the accounting workflow process. Earlier, the workflow was a manual, time-consuming complex process involving various dynamic business rules. As part of automation, the customer wanted to include a flexible business rule engine embedded into the workflow automation system, while following the standards of the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development (ACORD).
The automation exercise required buy-in from all stakeholders for a sustainable and smooth transition from a manual to an automated workflow system. In order to enable this, a holistic stakeholder engagement methodology was used to get the buy-in from all stakeholders. The stakeholder engagement methodology ensures the automation workflow process is complete, satisfying the principle of inclusivity. The principle of inclusivity refers to three important elements, i.e., materiality, completeness, and responsiveness. This helped satisfy all the stakeholders’ needs and concerns while designing and developing workflow automation.
Anuradha Alladi, P. H. Anantha Desik

Flexibility, Innovation and Business Excellence

12. Localization, Cultural Preferences and Global Commerce—Software Like a Cooperative Partner
Modern technology enables contacts between people from various countries, nations, and continents, physically by travelling and virtually by using modern electronic communication and software products. Humans tend to ascribe human qualities to complex sophisticated computer interfaces. As a result, they expect these interfaces to blend into their individual culture and to be compatible with their own cultural preferences and norms. This means that the product must be adapted to the cultural environment: it needs localization. In this chapter we will discuss cultural differences between nations based on the five dimensions of cultural differences established by G. Hofstede. We identify seven hierarchical layers of localization and relate them to the cultural differences. We apply four countries (Austria, Germany, India, and the USA) with respect to the cultural differences.
Gerhard Chroust
13. Critical Processes for Organization Vitality: A Conceptual Study
Since last two to three decades, a drastic change has been seen in the business environment. Many of the organizations that were leaders before this are no more in existence. The reason behind that may be due to decrease in their vitality levels with respect to time. Organizations that fail to adapt the environmental changes might fail to even survive or grow further. A flexible and entrepreneurial attitude helps organizations to manage the changes. Continuous learning in the organization generates new innovative solutions, which helps in fulfilling the changing demands. This study focuses on the vitality issue and the process of achieving high vitality. Learning, innovation, flexibility, and entrepreneurship are the key pillars for gaining and sustaining high vital state. This chapter is based on review of literature and caselets of different organizations. Secondary data method has been used for this study. Finally, a “LIFE” mantra has been purposed as a process for continuous organization vitalization.
Sumant Kumar Bishwas, Sushil
14. How Flexible is the Strategic Innovative Performance Target Design without Sacrificing Lead Time?
Designing flexible performance targets means completely specifying the specifications and freezing all the features within a stipulated period completely, which is a marathon task. At the same time, the product should also delight the customer, which is another challenging task. Herein, the two prerequisites, firstly reducing the drivers of long lead time and secondly, using inherently fast techniques will improve the innovation lead time, which will further compress innovation lead time and create winning differentiation. ‘Law of lead time’ of any process governs a project (it is also known as Little’s law).
Experiential designing of the product and ‘evolvability’ are some dominant parameters for flexible design of performance targets. For a flexible performance target, the fast innovation techniques are most desirable. There are three imperatives: differentiation, fast time to market and the most important ‘disruptive innovation’. In short, disruptive innovation redefines the market place—creating entirely new curves in such a way that a new set of factors determine profitability and success, which makes the previous competitive advantage obsolete. This decidedly creates revenue growth and value creation/value addition to the designed product.
In this chapter, a fast innovation or rather innovation blitzkrieg model has been evolved and a successful Toyota case study has been discussed as the world leader in the product development and as a forceful strategic innovator.
R. C. Pathak, Rajesh Pathak, Shreya Virani
15. Time-Bound Formalization and its Role in Building Team Flexibility in Product Development Organizations
In this chapter, we explore the nature of a new factor named ‘time-bound formalization’ (TBF) in building flexibility into product development (PD) teams. This new factor was derived from the study of 108 PD teams in public and private sector organizations. Conceptually, TBF appears to be a subset of formalization, with a focus on procedures that are associated with a time bound. We observed that TBF plays a vital role in facilitating team flexibility. In the case of large teams, it helps in balancing team flexibility and team performance. A deeper understanding of TBF can provide clues for formulating better PD practices to promote team flexibility.
K. Srikanth, K. B. Akhilesh
16. Next-Generation Business Excellence Model: Integrating Flexibility Dimension
The business excellence model is a nonprescriptive framework that enables organizations to provide a basic structure for the organization’s management system to follow and excel. The need and importance for flexibility have been felt in this era of complex and dynamic business situations. Organizations that are more flexible are able to adapt the changes quickly and are able to compete in the market successfully. The concept of flexibility is multidimensional in nature. It has been observed that the flexibility dimension is able to find its place in the business excellence models in a limited way. Flexibility dimensions have been identified in the existing European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) business excellence framework (in the year 2010) as explicitly defined in it. Flexibility dimensions for all the nine criteria of the framework have been captured from experts through semi-structured interviews. There is an attempt to present a business excellence framework, which incorporates the flexibility dimensions.
Rakesh Kumar Gupta, Sarita Nagpal
17. Flexibility as a Strategy for Reducing Cost of Renovation in Building Construction Projects
Flexible buildings are the need of the present society. Flexibility leads to adaptability, and adaptability of buildings has become the utmost requirement in today’s world. Flexibility is understood to be the ability to adapt to continually changing requirements and conditions of the environment. This chapter deals with a comparative study of renovation costs incurred for buildings that are flexible and buildings that are not flexible from the utility point of view. The authors have assessed 15 cases of renovation of building projects in Nagpur city in India (out of which five cases are reported). To measure the degree of flexibility of buildings, a flexibility tool has been developed. The findings of the study suggest that the buildings that have a high degree of flexibility incurred less cost for renovation as compared to the buildings that have a low degree of flexibility. This research can help in making buildings more flexible so as to reduce the future renovation costs. A building that is more flexible will be utilized more efficiently, and will be more sustainable, because it can respond to changes at a lower cost. A longer and more efficient service life for the building may, in turn, translate into improved environmental performance over the lifecycle of the building.
Rashmi Shahu, Ashok K. Pundir, L. Ganapathy

Flexibility in Value and Supply Chains

18. Establishing Visibility Across the Value Chain of a Beverage Giant by Implementing Flexible Systems
Globalization has brought in huge complexity in today’s business. Businesses are becoming global and as a result, the supply chains have become vastly complex networks of vendors, distributors, and customers. It is imperative that visibility across the value chain is a challenge and needs to be addressed. The complexity and chaos have led to emergence of unavoidable paradoxes that a business house needs to balance. The successful companies in today’s world strive to excel by balancing the paradoxes by implementing flexible systems. Every system has three dimensions—people, process, and technology. It is a major concern as companies seek effectivity in their global operations. Most of the supply chain managers struggle with getting accurate and timely information to run their global operations at a time when the free flow of information is readily available to most of the world through the Internet. The objective of this chapter is to identify measures taken in three dimensions of management system to come out with a solution to address challenges in visibility across the value chain.
Kamal Karnatak, Arnab Mitra
19. Structural Flexibility in Supply Chains: TISM and FISM Approach
Supply chain (SC) has gained much popularity among the researchers and practitioners from the stage of its infant mortality. Of all, flexibility aspects in supply chains have gained much attention as ‘flexibility’ supports a firm’s supply chain to be more ‘responsive to change’. The supply side also calls for the ability of SCs to respond to rapid changes in the demand. ‘Structural flexibility’ reflects on the ability of SC to adapt or reconfigure its architecture in response to major changes in the demand side and/or supply sides (Christopher, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 2011). Although the research on flexibility has been reported in literature, the fuzziness in flexibility has been observed to be a missing field. While incorporating fuzziness, the interactions as well the Matrice d’Impacts Croisés Multiplication Appliquée á un Classement (MICMAC) analysis become more transparent.
P. R. S. Sarma, V. R. Pramod
20. TISM-Based Model to Evaluate the Flexibility Index of a Supply Chain
In the present era of global competition, organizations are trying to improve the effectiveness of the whole chain of organizations involved from raw material to delivery of the final product to the consumer. In this regard, supply chain management plays a crucial role. Uncertainty and variation in customers’ demand call for flexible supply chains. Supply chain flexibility gives an idea of interorganizational relationships. In many industries, supply chain flexibility is becoming a more and more important concept for gaining competitive advantages. By the design and use of strategic supply chain networks, significant improvements of supply chain flexibility can be achieved to improve the overall flexibility of the supply chain. Without analyzing the supply chain flexibility adequately, it is difficult to manage and organize the flow of material and information necessary for coordination in the supply chain. This chapter aims to find the main flexibility factors in a supply chain and development of the structural framework by using the interpretive structural modeling (ISM) approach. Further, this ISM model is used to suggest a framework for evaluating the flexibility index of a supply chain. The application of this framework is explained with the help of a case example. This approach of evaluating the flexibility index will be highly useful to map their flexibility parameters and for taking corrective measures.
R. K. Singh, P. B. Sharma
21. Decision Modeling Approach for Eco-Driven Flexible Green Supply Chain
Consideration is being given to the interaction of flexibility and green perspective of supply chains. Flexibility has already been considered to be an important differentiator in the current market place. Several researches have already emphasized the need for flexibility in supply chains and demonstrated its effectiveness. Substantial research efforts are still required to incorporate the flexibility with a motivation to improving performance of green supply chains (GSCs). By understanding how organizational initiatives and government policies we can decision flexibility into design and management of GSCs. In doing so, we will initially focus on environmental management perspective. Here, decision perspective from environmental factors is moved to the technological decisions related to postdisposal disposition of products. In the present scenario, this is a critical topic that captures increasing concerns of organizations over sustainability, which is driven by government legislation and environmental pressures. The implication of this research emphasizes on the potential to affect future government policy and current production system, and to identify new business models. In furthering this analysis, we investigate and provide a background to better understand the current trends in this multidisciplinary field that intersect with GSC.
Jitendra Madaan, Sachin Mangla

Financial Flexibility and Mergers and Acquisitions

22. Innovative Mode of Financing and Abnormal Returns to Shareholders of Indian Acquiring Firms
This chapter seeks to explore the influence of innovative mode of financing such as the combination of cash and stock or the earn-out offers used in the acquisitions. This chapter also looks into whether the short-run performance of domestic and cross-border acquisitions is impacted differently when an innovative mode of payment is used. This chapter examines the abnormal returns to the shareholders of 14 acquiring companies in India during the period 2003–2008. The results indicate that the acquisitions generate statistically significant positive abnormal returns of 5.29 % during the 5-day event window (− 2, + 2) when an innovative method of payment is used as a mode of acquisition. The major finding of disaggregated analysis is that the acquirer experiences higher cumulative average abnormal return (CAAR) in the case of acquisition of a domestic target firm. The acquirer earns more than 10 % CAAR during the 5-day event window (− 2, + 2) when the target firm is domestic. The acquirer earns more than 3 % during the 5-day event window (− 2, + 2) when the target firm is cross-border. The acquisitions financed with a combination of cash and stock or earn-out offers experience positive abnormal returns, could be a signal in support of the investment opportunity and the risk-sharing hypotheses.
Neelam Rani, Surendra S. Yadav, P. K. Jain
23. Multiple Perspectives of Mergers and Acquisitions Performance
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) have emerged as multiple-purpose strategies used by corporate firms for value creation, value enhancement, as well as for defensive purposes for sustainable growth and development. Sustainable development requires companies’ continuous attempts to identify expected opportunities and prompt actions to exploit the same before the rivals/competitors. Corporate firms need to examine continuously, the compatibility of their organization with the changing environment; they require foreseeing all possible obstacles in the efficient operations of the firm. In view of large failure rate of M&A suggested in available literature, the study proposes the analysis of M&A performance, considering multiple perspectives of M&A performance. Comprehensive analysis of M&A performance is proposed considering all possible financial and nonfinancial perspectives likely to be influenced by M&A decisions; for the purpose, a set of 48 parameters under the broad categorization of situations, actors, processes, and performance parameters is proposed. Proposed framework represents a flexible framework, which could be modified with the change in circumstances, firm, industry, or environment. Analysis of multiple perspectives of M&A performance, along with providing a holistic view of M&A performance, is supposed to be useful for continuous evaluation and monitoring of M&A performance. It is likely to facilitate the collective segregated view of the M&A performance in terms of lead as well as lag parameters, thereby helping to spot the weak and strong parameters and initiating the corrective actions accordingly; thus, facilitating longevity of M&A decisions, which perhaps seems requisite in present scenario, where M&A deal with collapse in short period of time.
Anshu Agrawal, Sushil, P. K. Jain
24. A System Dynamics (SD) Model of Post-Merger Integration
The managerial problems are becoming complex due to rapid socioeconomic changes. Managers find it difficult to cope with the complex problems with the ‘traditional management’ approach. To manage the complexities and contradictions, system dynamics (SD) is a methodology that judiciously combines the traditional management with cybernetics and computer simulation so as to carry out a sound policy analysis.
This chapter discusses the concept of SD methodology and its effectiveness as a modern management tool. The post-merger integration of Kelvinator and Whirlpool is analysed and a SD model is developed taking ‘market share’ and ‘profit before tax’ (PBT) as key parameters. A causal loop diagram for the market share and PBT is developed along with stock and flow diagram. From the closeness of simulation results with that of reality, we found that the policies assumed for formulating the SD model have been more or less corroborated by the actual results.
Shyam Sethi
Systemic Flexibility and Business Agility
Gerhard Chroust
Copyright Year
Springer India
Electronic ISBN
Print ISBN

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