A longitudinal study of Swedish manufacturing: eight short cases
Journal article, 2012
This paper presents the findings from a follow up study on eight Swedish companies, made exactly thirty years after the initial study made by Professor David Bennett, Aston Business School, and Bengt Almgren, industry consultant in Gothenburg. The purpose behind the original study was to determine why Swedish manufacturing industry was so successful and the study was sponsored by the UK Science and Engineering Research Council (now the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council). In doing the follow up study, David and Bengt asked for assistance by me and my assistant, Abid Muhammad. The time schedule for visiting the eight companies was tight; it was to be done during one single week.
This was of course a tricky task, but we managed to arrange a tour to visit all eight companies in just five days. Surprisingly, all eight companies still existed, however sometimes with new owners and somewhat change of scope and products. Thirty years is also a very long time perspective when it comes to industrial development. Some drastic changes were also hanging over two of the companies visited.
As a framework for data collection and analysis the DRAMA methodology (Decision Rules for Analysing Manufacturing Activities) was employed (Bennett and Forrester, 1990). This disaggregates production system design activity into ten components, i.e. Market and Environment; Manufacturing Strategy; Organization; Justification; Project Management; Physical System Design; Control and Integration; Work Design; Implementation; Evaluation. Analysis has been undertaken at the level of the factory rather than the company as a whole.