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Mass Customization vs. Complexity: A Gordian Knot?

Blecker, Thorsten and Abdelkafi, Nizar and Kaluza, Bernd and Kreutler, Gerold (2004): Mass Customization vs. Complexity: A Gordian Knot? Published in: 2nd International Conference “An Enterprise Odyssey: Building Competitive Advantage” – Proceedings (2004): pp. 890-903.

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Mass customization is a business strategy that aims at satisfying individual customer needs, nearly with mass production efficiency. It induces a high complexity level because of various customer requirements and a steadily changing environment. However, mass customization has some potential to reduce complexity. These interdependencies between mass customization and complexity form a Gordian knot that should be cut in order to point out that mass customization is not just an oxymoron linking two opposite production concepts, but a business strategy that contributes towards reaching a competitive advantage. On the one hand, mass customization increases the production program, manufacturing and configuration complexities. On the other hand, mass customization can contribute to reduce complexity at the levels of order taking process, product and inventories. The main results attained through the analysis are integrated in a comprehensive framework that shows the complexity increasing and complexity decreasing aspects due to mass customization.

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