The strategic pursuit of mix flexibility through operators' involvement in decision making


Purpose: Fast-paced, hyper-competitive environments require organizations to use flexible resources and delegate decision making. This paper aims to examine the synergistic effects of operators' involvement in decision making (IIDM) and equipment reliability across operations on mix flexibility when speed is emphasized. A theoretical framework integrating strategic decision making and operations management theories is proposed to uncover the dynamics of such relationships.

Design/methodology/approach: Both objective and subjective data were collected at the individual level from different sources in a single organization. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to test the framework.

Findings: Results show that: an emphasis on speed and experience interact to predict IIDM; and IIDM and machine reliability have compensatory effects in predicting mix flexibility, i.e. greater operator IIDM results in a more varied output mix, but this effect wanes as machine reliability increases.

Research limitations/implications: The use of a single research facility permitted extensive data collection and strengthened internal validity, but it also limited the generalizability of the results. Assuaging this concern is the fact that the results support well-established theories.

Originality/value: Labor flexibility should be construed in terms of job enlargement and enrichment. For organizations, the study highlights the importance of a well-trained workforce to support and exploit technological capabilities. It also sets parameters over which decision making is most effective.



Document Type





Decision making, Flexibility, Human resource management

Publication Date


Journal Title

International Journal of Operations and Production Management