Chair of Production Management

Cem Mercikoglu on Bottom-up Operations Strategy Formation

Cofounder of the Industrial Excellence Award Türkiye, 3 HBR Türkiye publications and one SSRN research paper

This morning, Cem Mercikoglu (MBA 2012) defended his dissertation on “Antecedents of Bottom-up Strategy Formulation and Competitiveness”. Cem co-founded the Industrial Excellence Award Türkiye supported by Koc University. Three articles were published in Harvard Business Review Türkiye on Management-Quality and Competitiveness, Bottom-up Operations Strategy Formation and the Difference between Subjective and Objective Strategy Understanding.

Link to HBR articles:

Title: Antecedents of Bottom-up Operations Strategy Formation

Authors: Arnd Huchzermeier, Cem Mercikoglu, Serden Özcan, Thilo Scholz

Abstrakt: In leading manufacturing companies, many improvement ideas and productivity enhancements originate bottom-up. Employee-initiated improvements give a competitive advantage to firms that mobilize this resource, so knowledge of what triggers such behavior is valuable. We examine the antecedents of individual Kaizen generation by frontline employees, drawing on the well-established Motivation-Opportunity-Ability framework and focusing on the dimension of ability – that is, understanding operations strategy. Survey data on 217 frontline employees, working in 17 teams on 11 different production lines, were “triangulated” with their team leader assessments and the plant’s archival records. We tested the hypothesized relationships via analyses that incorporate both structural equation modeling and multiple regression techniques. Our results suggest that employees typically overestimate their understanding of the plant’s operations strategy and that productivity is driven more by an objective than a subjective understanding of that strategy. We also find that incremental innovation is facilitated by supervisor support, employee engagement, and an employee suggestion scheme; in contrast, neither autonomy nor selected control variables (e.g., age or seniority) has a significant effect. Our findings and the metrics we develop for better management of strategy understanding should help managers increase the productivity of their operations and thus the competitiveness of their respective firms.

Keywords: Operations strategy formation, supervisor support, operations strategy understanding, autonomy, employee engagement, employee suggestion system, kaizen