How Australian manufacturing firms perceive and understand the concepts of agility and flexibility in the supply chain

Sajad Fayezi, Ambika Zutshi, Andrew O'Loughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to address an important question which centres on investigating how do manufacturing businesses perceive and understand the concepts of agility and flexibility in their supply chains (SCs).

Design/methodology/approach: A case study approach was utilised and data were gathered from semi-structured interviews with ten organisations in the Australian manufacturing sector. Data analysis was conducted using analytic techniques based on, for example, pattern matching and cross-case synthesis.

Findings: Findings confirmed that there is some ambiguity concerning the understanding of the terms agile and flexible, both within and between organisations. The implications are that there is often little consistency in the way the terms are operationalised and then applied. In this regard, and to inform future research, the paper offers empirically grounded definitions for SC agility and flexibility. Moreover, four propositions are developed and discussedwhich shed light on the dynamics of agility and flexibility in the SC.

Originality/value: This is one of the first empirical studies to address some of the apparent inconsistencies between organisational applications of agility and flexibility, and their impact on SC operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-281
Number of pages36
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Agility
  • Australia
  • Case study
  • Flexibility
  • Relationship integration
  • Supply chain management

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