Purpose: Design-for-variety (DFV) practices aim to help manufacturers to manage and mitigate the negative impact of product variety on operational performance. Theory suggests that designing products according to DFV practices increases operational performance by allowing more efficient processing of products, capitalizing on commonalities and by supporting cross-functional and cross-boundary coordination through simplifying product designs. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the latter proposition, and especially the mediating role of internal, supplier and customer integration in the relationship between DFV and operational performance. Design/methodology/approach: Data collected in 2014 among 702 manufacturers from 22 countries as part of the 6th International Manufacturing Strategy Survey are analyzed through mediated regression analysis using SPSS 25, AMOS and PROCESS v3.1 software. Findings: DFV affects cost/speed, quality, delivery, flexibility and service performance positively. Except for the role of customer integration in the DFV-cost/speed relationship, internal, supplier and customer integration partially mediate the relationship between DFV and operational performance. Practical implications: In addition to allowing a more efficient processing of products, the positive effect of DFV on performance is also explained by the fact that DFV practices support cross-functional and supply chain integration. These practices allow manufacturers to create a set of design rules easily understood and communicated within and across organizational boundaries. Originality/value: While previous research tends to consider one DFV practice and limited sets of integration mechanisms and performance dimensions, this paper consolidates the most common DFV practices into one construct and encompasses the three forms of integration and six performance dimensions dominating the DFV literature.
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- Mediated regression analysis
- Product design