Ahmed, Pervaiz K., Hardaker, Glenn and Carpenter, Martin (1996) Integrated flexibility—Key to competition in a turbulent environment. Long Range Planning, 29 (4). pp. 562-571. ISSN 00246301

Markets have become global, with competition and pressure arising from various sources and with increasing rapidity. The competitive reality of the 1990s takes for granted many of the old concerns such as quality and low costs as mere starting points in the struggle for survival rather than as an agenda upon which competitive advantage can be built. Faster product development, shorter lead times spanning entire business operations from purchasing and production through to distribution and final consumption are likely to underpin benchmarks for future success. This article considers how to build a platform to achieve sustainable competitive advantage. In particular it considers integration and flexibility and relevant issues when trying to achieve a successful marriage between the two seemingly opposing concepts. We examine the nature of Serco Systems Ltd as a successful operating company of Serco plc and use its experience to illustrate the route to ‘integrated flexibility’. The authors propose that an integrated flexibility format allows the bundling together of complex generic strategies in which complex combinations such as pursuit of quality, service and price competitiveness can be successfully followed simultaneously.

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