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Durham e-Theses
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Suppliers versus lead users: examining collaboration in mass customisation

Al-Zu’b, Zu’bi Mohammad (2008) Suppliers versus lead users: examining collaboration in mass customisation. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Mass customisation has been hailed as the manufacturing paradigm of the future, and has accordingly received much academic interest. Nevertheless, it is important to gain a better understanding of the ways in which mass customisation performance may be enhanced, in the light of the number of reported failures of mass customisation ventures. This thesis explores the use of collaboration in product development processes as a means of increasing mass customisation operational performance. The two collaborative partners of interest are suppliers and lead users ― a specialised subset of users. The effects of lead users in the product development processes of mass customisation have not previously been evaluated, nor has their value been compared to that of suppliers. Accordingly, the aim of this study is to investigate the relative effects of collaborating with suppliers and lead users in the product development processes on mass customisation. This is achieved by measuring mass customisation operational performance in terms of four attributes derived from the literature: development cost, development time, customer influence and product scope. Hierachical regression analysis of survey data collected from two hundred and fifty-one UK consumer products manufacturers revealed a significant positive relationship between lead user collaboration and all four mass customisation operational performance attributes, while supplier collaboration was found to positively affect three of the four attributes, with the exception of customer influence. In addition, analysis revealed that lead user collaboration had a greater effect on the operational performance than supplier collaboration. These results give a valuable indication to scholars as well as manufacturers of the importance of lead users in the product development processes of mass customisation.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2008
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:33

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