The notion of  best practice in production and operations management is essentially false. Discuss.

Marking Criteria

Marks will be awarded for the appropriate use of comparison across nations, industries, companies and business functions. You should answer each question with reference to at least two countries and preferably more, even where only one country is cited in the question. A proper balance between theory and evidence and the appropriate use of national, industry or corporate examples in each answer will receive favourable consideration.

In MN330: Modern Business in Comparative Perspective, you will receive marks for fulfilling the following criteria:

(a) Answering the question. You need, naturally, fully to interpret the set question; to consider key words or phrases; to decide how all parts of the question are connected (although possibly asked in two parts, there are connections that should be reflected in your answer); to devise an analysis and/or essay structure that allows you to answer the question fully; and through analysis and thought to determine the key issues, debates and subject matter rather than the peripheral or irrelevant.

(b) Knowledge of Cases and Evidence. It is impossible to gain high marks unless you demonstrate knowledge of countries, institutions, industries, firms, and organizational functions. Evidence enables you also to avoid annoying generalizations and sweeping statements. While some cases may support one interpretation of an issue or question, other cases may not. Use your cases and evidence within an analytical structure designed to answer the question rather than just mentioning cases in turn.

(c) Knowledge of Theory and Literature. You need to demonstrate an understanding of major authors and theories whenever relevant. Please avoid repeating the work of others at length. Often a short summary is sufficient, and the questions on the course direct you to critique not exegesis. You should also employ theories and concepts as a means of shaping your use of evidence, and the theory and evidence should be synergic and not separate.

(d) Analysis and Structure. This is the main characteristic that defines a good assignment. You are expected to know the major literature and offer evidential support as a basic part of studying for the course. The point is whether you have thought about the material, and whether you can use it to argue coherently and analytically in response to a set problem. The insights implicit in your analysis should be reflected in the design of your assignment structure, which in turn should be apparent to the marker.

(e) Comparisons. It should be no surprise on MN330 that you have to offer comparisons. It is better to avoid the sequential outline of cases, by which is meant a discussion of (say) the US, Germany, the UK, Japan and China in turn and separately. The approach causes problems in the design of an analytical structure, and it is not directly comparative because you treat each example separately. Place evidence from each nation within the issues set by an analytical structure: that is, if you were to discuss comparative human resources, place evidence from Germany, UK, US, Japan and China etc into most of the assignment sections dealing with key issues such as training, management education, employment systems, trade unions, etc.

J M Rubenstein, Making and Selling Cars (2002)

E.Abe and R.Fitzgerald, (eds.), The Origins of Japanese Industrial Power (1995)[SL 338.0952 ORI]

W. Mark Fruin, The Japanese Enterprise System: Competitive Strategies and Cooperative Structures (1993) [SL 338.740952 FRU]

W. Mark Fruin, Networks, Markets and the Pacific Rim (1998) [338.60952 NET]

J.K. Liber, W. Mark Fruin and P.S. Adler, (eds.), Remade in America (1999) [338.7500952 REM]

J Williams, C Haslam, and K Williams,  Bad Work Practices and Good Management Practices: the Consequences of the Extension of Managerial Control in British and Japanese Manufacturing since 1950 , Business History Review, 64 (1990)

M Kenney and R.Florida, Beyond Mass Production (1993) [338.0952 KEN]

N Oliver and B Wilkinson, The Japanisation of British Industry (1988)

P Stewart and P Garrahan, eds, Beyond Japanese Management (1996)

T Elger and C Smith, Global Japanization? (1994) [338.7500952 GLO]

W Eltis and D Fraser,  The Contribution of Japanese Industrial Success to Britain and to Europe , National Westminister Quarterly Review (1992)

M Freyssenet, et al, eds, One Best Way? (1998) [338.476292 FRE]

M. Kenney, Institutions and Knowledge: the dilemmas of success in the Korean electronics industry , Asia Pacific Business Review 5:1 (Autumn 1998): 1-28

D H Brown and R Porter, Management Issues in China: Domestic Enterprises (1996) 338.7500951

H Harukuyo and G D Hook, Japanese Business Management (1998), 338.7500952

A M Rugman and T L Brewer, eds, Oxford Handbook of International Business (2001)

P Dicken, Global Shift: the Internationalisation of Economic Activity (2003)

D G McKendrick et. al., From Silicon Valley to Singapore (2000)

M Holweg and F K Pil, The Second Century: moving beyond mass and lean production in the auto industry (2004)

H Horaguchi and K Shimokawa, Japanese Foreign Direct Investment and the East Asia Industrial System (2002)