Research Insight: Co-creation and pop-ups

This article by Lugosi et al (2020) is interesting from a number of perspectives.  First it provides a good overview of the literature on co-creation (which we also refer to as prosumption in our book).  Second, it researches this phenomenon in a context that is rarely researched, namely a pop-up experience.  Third, since I am currently writing a series of blogs on OM theory and research methods, it is a very good example of a qualitative study, based on semi-structured interviews.

In most cases, co-creation is conceived and researched within the context of a predefined servicescape.  But this study investigated “white dinners” – a pop-up dining experience.  These events take place at different unique locations and many aspects of the servicescape are provided by the participants themselves.  This requires the organisers to significantly influence their customers before the event, as well as during it.  The article explains how they do this, and also how other customers play a part in influencing co-creation.


Lugosi, P., Robinson, R., Walters, G. and Donaghy, S. (2020) Managing experience co-creation practices: Direct and indirect inducement in pop-up food tourism events, Tourism Management Perspectives, Vol. 35

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Segway’s segue

Beloved of the police and film cameramen, last week Segway announced that it would no longer be making its iconic PT product.  This video explains why this particular innovation failed after 19 years…

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Lean manufacturing in the digital age

There are a series of articles from on the subject of lean manufacturing and digital transformation.  They are as follows:

  1. The key to lean manufacturing in the digital age (here).
  2. Is Frankenstein’s monster disrupting your production planning? (here).
  3. Don’t let legacy software be the albatross around your neck (here).
  4. Does your supply chain contain more holes than Swiss cheese? (here)
  5. Greater productivity isn’t delivered by hand (here).
  6. Could the loss of one person sink your business? (here).
  7. Supply chain transparency – helping manufacturers deliver the goods (here).
  8. Digitally empowered workers are the key to unlocking greater productivity (here).
  9. Operational agility – is your business more sloth than monkey? (here).
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Enterprise infrastructure shifts to the mainstream…

Enterprise infrastructure a secure connection between a company and its remote workforce that can be designed, managed, and monitored specifically for that organisation.  Security is assured by a high level of encryption. It was originally developed to contribute to business continuity should the company experience some kind of physical disaster, but is now being deployed by firms in the context of the C-19 pandemic.

This article from features a movie animation company and explains how they are using this technology to make their next animated film.

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Four alternative transformations of shopping centres

Last week the owner of some the UK’s largest shopping centres declared bankruptcy.  Many argue that this infrastructure is now outdated – superseded by online shopping, a trend accelerated by the C-19 pandemic.  So this article from provides some insight into how such infrastructure might be repurposed.  They propose four alternatives:

  1. Destination centre – “spaces centred around a large attraction”.
  2. Innovation centre – retail research facilities that incorporate research by ethnographers and psychologists into the shopping experience, in order to beta test products, merchandising, store layout, and etc.
  3. Values centre – spaces shared by people of a common identity with all the outlets related to that.
  4. Retaildential space – focused on a specific demographic, the centre would incorporate living space as well as retail outlets targeted at that demographic.
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Globalisation in transition

An in-depth article from McKinsey looks at how there are fundamental shifts in global value chains.  There are five such shifts:

  1. Goods traded across borders is growing at a slower rate than the output of goods.
  2. Trade in services is outpacing the growth in traded goods.
  3. Production in low wage countries is less significant.
  4. “Global value chains are becoming more knowledge intensive”.
  5. Regional trade is outpacing global trade.

The three major factors causing these shifts are:

  1. Asian domestic markets are growing.
  2. China’s supply chain is more sophisticated.
  3. Digital transformation.
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OM Theory relating to Chap 3 (Life Cycles)

There are three main life cycle models discuss in chapter 3:

  1. Product life cycle (PLC) – originally proposed by Dean (1950) in the Harvard Business Review and popularised by Kotler, this was essentially a marketing oriented view of how product sales changed over time.
  2. Product lifecycle management  (PLM) – sometimes referred to as the engineering product life cycle, it was proposed in the early 1990s and extends the PLC concept by considering the total life of a product from its conception to its cessation.
  3. Service firm life cycle (SFLC) – originally proposed by Sasser et al (1978) this is an organisational perspective on how service firms develop over time.

Given that the PLC was proposed 70 years ago, it is not surprising that the literature on this topic is huge.  Two articles provide insight into this. Rink and Swan (1979) review the PLC concept and research conducted between 1950 and 1979, whilst Cao and Folan (2011) bring this more up to date, as well comparing the PLC with PLM.  A Google search reveals no article that reviews research into the SFLC.

The theory that underpins all of these models is that over time aspects of a product or a service vary, and that this variation can be broken down into distinct stages.  The importance of understanding this is that some aspect of operations will be different depending on what stage a product or service is at.  For instance, production capacity will have to be increased during the growth stage of the PLC, or production technology will be selected during the multi-site rationalisation stage of the SFLC.

Both the PLC and the SFLC are described as bell (or S-) shaped.  The problem with this is that there are demonstrably many products or service firms that do not behave in this way (as we explain in the chapter).    Indeed as Phelps et al (2007) explain there are in fact many alternative “life cycles”.  They argue that rather than try to understand the challenges that growth present by categorising stages, it is better to think in terms of “a typology of issues that all growing firms are likely to face” and their “absorptive capacity” (i.e. their ability to learn and apply new things).  This may be especially relevant in the context of i4.0  which may provide opportunities to grow in a number of different ways.


Phelps, R., Adams, R. and Bessant, J. (2007) Life cycles growing organisations: a review with implications for knowledge and learning, International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp 1-30

Cao, H. and Golan, P. (2011) Product life cycle: the evolution of a paradigm and literature review from 1950 to 2009, Production Planning and Control, Vol. 23, No. 8, pp. 1-22

Rink, D.R. and Swan, J.E. (1979) Product Life Cycle Research: A Literature Review, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp 219-242

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OM Theory relating to Chapter 3 (Processes)

This chapter has two main topics – processes (discussed here) and life cycles (discussed in the next blog).

Since processes are at the heart of OM it is not surprising that there are a number of theories relating to this.  The first amongst these is the Theory of Swift, Even Flow.  One of the most recent studies to research and apply this theory is by Garn et al (2020).  This means that there is an up-to-date review of the literature pertaining to this theory – demonstrating that it has been researched frequently and in a variety of different ways. Garn et al (2020) use the case study method and apply it to a parcel delivery business.

In the article, they cite an earlier work by Schmenner (2015) which explains the theory in some detail.  Schmenner writes: “The Theory of Swift Even Flow states that two factors – and only two factors – are essential to productivity gain.  The first essential factor is to reduce variation. That variation can be of three types – quality, quantities and timing. That is that one wants (1) to reduce defects and to perfect quality, (2) to even out the varieties of goods produced and the quantities of each so that each day of production resembles every other day of production, and (3) to produce with a regular timing or sequence.  The second essential factor is to measure the time it takes to produce something from start to finish – its throughput time – and to reduce that throughput time as much as possible. Swift even flow concentrates its attention on the flow of materials through a process; it asks people to take the viewpoint of the materials moving through the process. By reducing the variation and throughput time of those materials, one eliminates the non-value added aspects of production, which is where the costs and inefficiencies lie”.

Going back to the Garn et al (2020) study, what is interesting that this theory was applied to a company who had adopted lean thinking for four years, with limited success.  They argued that “swift even flow enlarged the company’s field vision to include its end-to-end processes and unlocked savings across its organisational boundaries…”.

As well as swift even flow theory, there are also less substantive theories relating to process type and process design.


Schmenner, R.W. (2015) The Pursuit of Productivity, Production and Operations Management, Vol 24, No 2, 341-350

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Post-Covid19 employment in seven charts

As ever has a very insightful article that looks at seven different aspects of employment (or unemployment) resulting from the crisis (here).  The seven aspects are:

  • job losses
  • hours worked
  • job vacancies
  • analysis by age
  • analysis by sector
  • analysis by UK region
  • global workforce.
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Select the right crowd for the right job

Crowd sourcing is popular but not always successful.  This article from suggests this is because there are three different types of crowd, each of which is suited to specific types of activity, as summarised here.

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