Disentangling Resilience, Agility and Leanness: Conceptual Development and Empirical Analysis
This PhD thesis extends the existing knowledge on resilience in the context of supply chain, specifically by: (1) disentangling resilience, leanness and agility and (2) investigating how resilience along with leanness and agility affects operational performance outcomes. At the first phase, a literature review of practices underlying Lean, Agile and Resilient (LAR) was done, classifying them to the areas of overlap and non-overlap between LAR as regards the practices. Of the many practices identified for each of LAR, there are some that underlie just one of these three while others underlie two of them and even all three. To establish the practitioner need for this research, a survey combined with a focus group of various companies was conducted in the Forum of 2011 at Procter & Gamble, Brussels’ office. The results confirm lack of clear distinction between practices that are part of lean, agile and resilience. Clarifying these concepts is crucial both from theoretical and practical aspects. Theoretically, when it comes to those practices which go under lean and agile, agile and resilience or even the three of LAR, when it comes to have them in statistical models researchers don’t know where exactly these practices should be categorized. Practically, unclear boundaries between these concepts can make implementation of respective practices potentially problematic or confusing for managers. At the second phase, the thesis aims at “disentangle resilience, leanness and agility”. The survey carried out was done online in Germany due to the country’s strong base in manufacturing. Through factor analysis, this part of the research approves the idea of literature that resilience has some practices that purely helps it, while it also has some practices that affect agility and resilience and agility, leanness and resilience. There are some differences in the boundaries of these categorizations between what literature mentions and what industrial managers believe in. At the third phase, the thesis aims to investigate “how resilience along with leanness and agility affects performance outcomes”. The aim is to empirically assess a set of hypotheses that follow not only from the literature, but also from the perceptions of practitioners about LAR resulted from phase two. The model is tested on a sample of Automotive Parts Suppliers (APS) in Iran as the largest automotive industry in the Middle East and 12th in the world, and specifically as an appropriate choice for a resilient-needed environment due to sanctions and volatility of the currency. A survey was used to obtain information and a structural equation model to analyse the data. The model quantitatively explains that while leanness is independent form resilience, agility brings about resilience. On the other hand, the model tests the relations of leanness and resilience on flexibility, delivery, cost and time to recovery performance outcomes. The results show that higher level of resilience will lead to better delivery performance, better cost performance (i.e. helps cost reduction) and better time to recovery performance (i.e. helps time to recovery reduction). The results also show that its effect on flexibility performance is not significant. Regarding leanness, the results confirm that lean positively affect delivery and flexibility performance. In addition, higher level of leanness will lead to better cost performance (i.e. helps cost reduction). The results also reject the hypothesis stating that higher level of leanness will lead to worse recovery performance, inferring that higher level of leanness leads to better time to recovery performance (i.e. helps time to recovery reduction). Finally, there are different theoretical and managerial implications. Theoretically, this research disentangles resilience, agility and leanness. Then, it presents a model that resilience; leanness and agility are modelled not separately but besides each other and quantitatively it investigates how resilience along with leanness and agility affects performance outcomes. From managerial point of view, a need to understand what measures of the three concepts of LAR are related to each area between the three concepts has been answered so managers can prioritize their efforts and seek to balance their efforts across LAR. Overall, the conceptual model that stems from the SEM model gives a useful starting point for supply chain researchers regarding the three approaches in the supply chains.
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