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Manufacturing in the UK has an image problem. Although this image problem is more fiction than fact, it nonetheless has an impact on the sector's ability to attract staff, capital, and policy interest. This book redresses this situation by focusing on the real successes of the sector and the strategies used by makers to achieve sustainable results.



1. Introduction

By all accounts the 2012 London Olympics were a triumph. As well as heroic sporting performances, fantastic organization and wonderful opening and closing ceremonies, the Games were also a triumph for the British creative sector (broadly construed), including architecture, arts, business and design. The design of the Olympic torch was a high-profile example of what Britain’s creative sector could do. Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby’s triangular design drew inspiration from three trinities—the Olympic motto “Faster, Higher, Stronger”, the fact that the 2012 Games were the third to be held in London, and the vision for London 2012 which was to unite sport, education and culture. The torch (made from gold PVD-finished aluminium) involved an innovative design balancing weight, an easily viewed fuller flame and, of course for safety, dissipation of the flame away from the handle. The design included 8,000 holes to represent the same number of runners and the miles run in the Olympic torch relay. Such was its success that the torch was listed among the Design Museum’s 2012 designs of the year and Barber and Osgerby each received an Order of the British Empire for services to design.
Michael Beverland, Beverley Nielsen, Vicky Pryce

2. Why Manufacturing Needs an Image Makeover

In this chapter we explore the nature of manufacturing’s image problem and identify why it persists in spite of the sector’s many successes. We then identify the implications of this poor image for the sector, in particular focusing on future employment, investment and policy requirements. Since the main focus of this chapter is to give the sector a much needed makeover, we compare the reality of modern manufacturing to the image, and also draw more widely on emerging trends that highlight a general interest in making things. We argue that while manufacturing has a poor image, consumers, investors, future employees and other stakeholders view creating, making and selling highly positively. Drawing on these insights we propose that manufacturing can be reframed more positively as the business of creating and making.
Michael Beverland, Beverley Nielsen, Vicky Pryce

3. The Future of Manufacturing Debate

This is far from the first book to examine the future of manufacturing in the UK. In this chapter we review much of the research and policy work on the subject. Individually, the vast majority of reports and academic articles are well researched, thoughtful, empathetic to manufacturing, and rigorous. That said, as with all debates they do share some underpinning assumptions that are worth surfacing and even challenging. In reviewing this work, we have identified four key drivers or foci believed to be critical for sustained manufacturing performance in the UK. We’ve labelled these “high value”, “innovation,” “ecosystems” and “business model”. On the surface these all seem uncontroversial, and certainly critically important. On closer investigation, however, we believe the future of UK manufacturing debate is framed too narrowly, oversimplifies the challenge and ignores too much of the reality of this sector’s success.
Michael Beverland, Beverley Nielsen, Vicky Pryce

4. How UK Manufacturers Create Value

Given the conclusion of the previous chapter, it is fair to ask, “How do UK manufacturers compete?” First, we generally think that relating UK manufacturing success to (on top of the necessary macroeconomic policies) value added, innovation, business model and ecosystems is broadly correct. However, we disagree with how these are interpreted. We propose the reality of manufacturing success in the UK (and many other advanced or post-industrial economies) is more complicated and nuanced than much of the extant research would have us believe. In this chapter we offer an alternative approach—one that complements rather than rejects entirely the extant literature. We will support our contentions with case examples.
Michael Beverland, Beverley Nielsen, Vicky Pryce

5. Branded Businesses

The previous chapter identified that the central means whereby UK manufacturers created value was through branding. On the face of it this seems obvious but also bold. The so-called average person in the street’s view of branding is that branding is nothing more than a pointless add-on, usually by marketing, intended to make us pay more than we would for often poor products. Such a view is echoed by no less than Sir James Dyson—the UK needs to move away from services such as marketing, branding and advertising, and return to making things. Unfortunately for Sir James, one cannot escape reputation or branding and his anti-branded strategy is one of the most powerful of all.
Michael Beverland, Beverley Nielsen, Vicky Pryce

6. Innovation Pathways

The previous chapter identified how manufacturers use brands to drive their business models. A brand-driven business model has implications for how firms innovate. Writers on innovation (and the vast majority of those on manufacturing policy) rarely give much consideration to branding other than to identify it as something that is “added on” at the end of the innovation process. Nothing could be further from the truth—the type of innovation (primarily breakthrough or primarily incremental) and, critically, the means by which one goes about innovating are all contingent on one’s brand position. Far from being a last-minute add-on, branding considerations take centre stage in innovation strategy. This chapter explores the relationship between branding and the six innovation pathways identified in Chapter 4.
Michael Beverland, Beverley Nielsen, Vicky Pryce

7. Manufacturing’s Business Model

In Chapter 6 we highlighted how industry analysts framed manufacturing’s business model in terms of how to best fit the current and emerging environment. Much work has been done on examining how to increase productivity, improve quality, leverage global supply chains, commercialise technological breakthroughs, improve cycle times and add value through services. Others have begun to highlight the benefits to be gained from increasing exports, investing in design and/or focusing on sustainability both in terms of products, process and recycling or re-use at the end of the product’s life.
Michael Beverland, Beverley Nielsen, Vicky Pryce

8. Ecosystems: Supporting Manufacturing Success

Ecosystems have been explained in simple terms as connecting partners to help things work. They are therefore focused on enhancing the conversion of strategy to delivery. In the case of this chapter the focus is on how this works for manufacturing and how it might work better. Rosabeth Moss Kanter described an ecosystem as conveying the idea that “all the pieces of an economy come together in particular places and that their strength and interactions determine prosperity and economic growth” (2012). The priority is on creating the ability to link—ideas to enterprise, small and large businesses to each other, education to jobs and entrepreneurship—along with encouraging cross-sectoral collaboration. It is about developing a real and virtual place-based infrastructure to support economic growth.
Michael Beverland, Beverley Nielsen, Vicky Pryce

9. Conclusion and Implications

In this final chapter we focus on the implications of our research for the manufacturing sector’s stakeholders. Given the thrust of our book, we do not dwell on macroeconomic policy (others have done fine work in this area) or industry-specific policy (again, others are better placed to do this). Given our findings and the emphasis on ecosystems, we also reject simple solutions such as copying Germany, the USA, Japan or others (although we believe much can be learned from their experiences). Instead we focus primarily on addressing the sector’s pressing needs to retain and attract employees, investment capital and stakeholder support. After addressing these challenges, we identify a number of other implications emerging from the research in the previous chapters.
Michael Beverland, Beverley Nielsen, Vicky Pryce


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