Flexibility is an effective means which help service-oriented manufacturing (SOM) hedge against uncertainty in a swiftly changing business environment. However, flexibility remains largely abstract in the SOM field, because flexibility often has different meaning to different people. Whereas very little systematic research has been directed towards the study of flexibility issues associated with SOM, a rich and burgeoning literature on manufacturing flexibility has accumulated over the past years. In this paper, we review the existing classical literatures on manufacturing, service and supply chain flexibility, which provide a background for SOM flexibility, and extract from them guiding principles for creating, measuring, and managing SOM flexibility. The article concludes with suggestions for some possible future research directions.
Key words: Service-oriented manufacturing (SOM), manufacturing flexibility, flexibility measurement, literature review.
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