The topic of manufacturing competitiveness has become a major concern of government, business, and academics in the U.S. over the past few years. While much has been written about the need for U.S. manufacturing firms to address current and future challenges, most of that has focused on prescriptions for "closing the gap" that has developed over the past several decades. Based on field studies at Hewlett Packard, Chaparral Steel, and several other U.S. companies, this article describes three modes or patterns of response that appear to cover the majority of U.S. firms. It explores in detail the actions taken by firms that have sought to exhibit leadership in manufacturing in the coming decade. The article Outlines the management processes and steps being followed as firms seek to do much more than simply "close the gap" and then specifies what will be required of a manufacturing-based firm desiring to be at the forefront of manufacturing competitiveness in the mid-1990s.
- Copyright © 1989 The Regents of the University of California