From Mass Production to Mass Customization: Hindrance Factors, Structural Inertia, and Transition Hazard



Research on mass customization has largely overlooked the issue of organizational change associated with the mass production-to-mass customization transition. To address this gap in the literature, we conduct a longitudinal case study of a manufacturing facility belonging to a division of a Fortune 1000 discrete manufacturing firm as it seeks to transition from mass production to mass customization. We empirically identify five factors hindering the mass production-to-mass customization transition within the research site and articulate five corresponding generalizations explaining how and why these hindrance factors relate to the mass production-to-mass customization transition hazard beyond the research site (i.e., how and why the five hindrance factors, in general, threaten the likelihood of a successful mass production-to-mass customization transition). We then theoretically validate the five hindrance factors and corresponding generalizations by mapping them onto the antecedents and tenets of structural inertia theory. We conclude with a brief discussion of the scientific and pragmatic significance of the findings and highlight opportunities for future research.