Implementing supply practice at Bridgend engine plant: The influence of institutional and strategic choice perspectives

Mickey Howard, Mike Lewis, Joe Miemczyk, Alistair Brandon-Jones

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    Purpose: This paper investigates the stalled adoption of a supplier park at Bridgend Engine Plant in the UK. It starts from the position that not all firms can or should implement the same set of practices. Design/methodology/approach: Critical incident technique and semi-structured interviews over five years were used to understand the influence of institutional and strategic choices during the implementation of a supplier park. A conceptual framework was developed to incorporate practices broadly associated with parks, i.e. improving supply stability, supply coordination, redefining the OEM/supplier boundary and enhancing interaction between co-located firms. Findings: The findings demonstrate a limited implementation of supply practices at Bridgend with only one component supplier brought onto the site. The original plan was to create a supplier park that would "grow" to an industrial park, creating an automotive sector in the area. However, a combination of operational, processual, and contextual factors have conspired against the plan. Research limitations/implications: The combination of a broad range of theoretical and practical elements means there are associated discussions that could be more fully explored. Condensing the interview notes has resulted in the researchers' own interpretation of events becoming a significant reality filter. Whilst single case studies raise inevitable concerns over comparability, our focus is on theoretical generalizability through richness of empirical data. Originality/value: As firms continue to use best practice as a core ingredient of strategy, researchers must respond with robust theoretical concepts explaining adoption and implementation. This paper integrates disparate perspectives across multiple levels in order to build a richer and more believable picture of a stalled initiative. Three key conclusions can be drawn: the contingent nature of "bundles of practice" implications of political ambiguity over the efficiency argument and the effect of isomorphic or bandwagon responses by firms. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)754-776
    Number of pages22
    JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • Automotive industry
    • Best practice
    • Engine components
    • Innovation
    • Suppliers
    • United Kingdom


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