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Performance measurements and their benefits within the German service sector

The purpose of the introduction is to frame the piece of work so that the reader is brought into that space. It should catch the reader’s attention, set up and outline the problem to be investigated, provide a taster of the results and then provide a short map of the piece of work.

A useful structure for doing this is the 5Ps:

• Proposition – this is your overarching statement that catches the eye and brings the reader into the subject area that you are going to talk about – kind of a bold statement on the state of the field.

• Problem – this points out what is wrong with the proposition and is actually what you are going to investigate with your research. This is kind of the justification for doing the research and creates the analytical imperative that you need.

• Proposal – this is how you ‘propose’ to solve the ‘problem’ that you have set-up in the previous paragraph.

• Pre-empt – this is taster of what you have found.

• Process – this is a map of the dissertation.

Now once the introduction is written the 5Ps titles should be removed as they are just ‘scaffolding’ to structure the work. Also the length of the introduction will vary depending on the nature of the piece of work but should be around 5% of your total word count so between 500 and 700 words.

Example 1

Proposition
Since the influence of Japanese management practices came to the fore in operations management in the 1980s, lean thinking has been receiving significant ongoing interest. Tracing its origins to the Toyota Production System (Womack and Roos) lean production is a highly efficient approach based on a series of practices, at the core of which, is the focus on eliminating waste. A lean philosophy embodies a customer driven “pull” approach, meaning the customer need or order is the trigger to start the production process. This is particularly relevant as current operations strategy responds to the era of fast paced innovation, mass customisation and superior customer response.

Problem
While the lean philosophy has rightly stimulated significant interest in many production and service organisations, it is unclear whether all elements of the lean approach can work in all conversion processes. There are a number of examples where the rush to implement lean, driven by a desire for efficiency and eliminating waste, have ignored some important considerations, particularly around its compatibility with other organisational change initiatives.

Proposal
To address this issue, this paper will investigate how the key principles and tools of lean can be applied as part of a larger organisational change initiative. This research will be carried out within the existing Edison bottling facility. In particular it will investigate what tools could be implemented and what challenges or difficulties might be anticipated with implementing lean thinking.

Pre-empt
This work finds that broadly Lean thinking has application within this context as the high volume, low complexity nature of the work utilising semi-skilled employees is the ideal application for the simplicity and involvement that Lean brings. Etc., etc.

Process
This dissertation will begin by discussing the nature of Lean, including its history and current use, before describing the research undertaken. It will go onto present and discuss the findings before drawing conclusions on the utility of lean in this context.

Example 2

Proposition
Unable to compete with low-cost economies, especially in labour intensive industries (Li and Qian, 2009), it has been proposed that manufacturers within developed countries need to reposition themselves so that they are no longer reliant on low-cost operations and efficient economic infrastructure for success (BERR/DIUS, 2008; Porter and Ketels, 2003). As a consequence of this there has been much written that encourages manufacturers to reposition themselves and move towards high-value manufacturing (HVM) (Martinez et al, 2008). It has been suggested that in order to be a high value manufacturer firms have to shift their activities beyond what is traditionally viewed as production. In other words they need to recognise that ‘manufacturing is no longer the simple production of goods for one-time sale but is now a complicated network involving many high-value but sometimes less tangible activities’ (Technology Strategy Board, 2008: p3).

Problem
However despite the abundance of rhetoric it is clear that very little work has been done to gain an understanding of the changes in the operational activity taking place within manufacturing firms to move them to this high value mode of operation. So while it is generally accepted that competing on cost alone is becoming more difficult for manufacturers in higher cost economies, the nature of HVM activity is less well defined. This is summarised nicely by Neely’s proposal that, ‘whilst HVM is popular with policy makers and academics, there is little empirical evidence exploring whether it is being adopted in practice’ (2008: p103).

Proposal
Therefore to address this gap in understanding this research has investigated the adoption of HVM practice within Scottish SMEs. There are two overall objectives; firstly, to explore how prevalent HVM is in Scottish SMEs; and secondly, to define in detail how HVM is being put into practice and therefore creating competitive advantage.

Pre-empt
In meeting these objectives this paper will contribute in three ways; first, it will provide empirical evidence of how companies in developed economies are changing their scope of activity to remain competitive: second it will identify if this scope of activity fits with current understandings of HVM; and third, it will add clarity to the operational, as opposed to the strategic and the economic, aspects of the debates on HVM. This research should therefore be of interest to manufacturing companies, support bodies mandated to grow manufacturing activity and academics currently investigating HVM.

Process
This paper begins with a literature review to develop a clearer understanding of what has been written about HVM; it then presents new empirical research looking at the extent to which manufacturing SMEs in Scotland are moving towards HVM, and how their internal activities are changing. Finally it synthesises the research findings with the literature in order to develop a clearer picture of how HVM adds to competitive advantage.