Operations strategy: A literature review

John C. Anderson, Gary Cleveland, Roger G. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

249 Scopus citations


Competitive pressures on American business have created the need for improved understanding and practice of operations strategy. Over the past 20 years some 80 articles and several books have been written on the subject. These writings, while diverse in nature and placement, serve to shape what we know about operations strategy and the opportunities for improved practice and meaningful research. This paper examines an underlying argument that exists within the literature that proper strategic positioning or aligning of operations capabilities can significantly impact competitive strength and business performance of an organization. The discussion is organized around four related premises: (1) that there exists a strategic, as opposed to a tactical, view of operations, (2) that there must be some synergistic process of integrating business and operations strategic issues, (3) that there are operations decision or policy areas which demonstrate strategic opportunities, and (4) that conceptual structures exist by which to target and focus operations strategy. The paper concludes that the literature and emerging research support each of these premises to varying degrees. The authors believe that further understanding of these premises could be benefited by more careful and consistent definition of operations strategy concepts and terminology, by more attention being placed on the content and process of operations strategy, by more empirical study, and finally by more emphasis being placed on service operations strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-158
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Operations Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1989
Externally publishedYes


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