This study investigates the role of learning and effective process implementation in the development of mass customization capability. Building upon the knowledge-based view of the firm, we argue that internal and external learning are two knowledge-generation routines that contribute to effective process implementation. Effective process implementation, in turn, is a knowledge-based manufacturing capability, which, as a function of internal and external learning, leads to mass customization capability. We employ structural equation modeling to empirically test the effects of learning on mass customization capability, mediated by effective process implementation, using survey data collected from 100 manufacturing plants in 3 industries and 6 countries. Our results provide empirical evidence supporting the proposed model of the effect of internal and external learning on mass customization capability, fully mediated by effective process implementation. This research is one of the first studies to integrate insights from the knowledge-based view of the firm and mass customization. It complements the OM view of mass customization, which to date has largely focused on the technical side, by demonstrating the role of managerial practices and learning in cultivating mass customization capability in a manufacturing environment.
- Knowledge management and learning
- Mass customization