Achieving automotive suppliers’ mass customization through modularity: Vital antecedents and the valuable role and responsibility of information sharing

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Finance and Supply Chain Management

Publication Date




Previous literature tends to combine postponement and modularity or view them as parallel factors to achieve mass customization (MC) while ignoring the sequence of a firm to design and implement operations and supply chain strategy. Based on a customer-oriented strategy and theories of organizational information processing theory, three-dimensional (3D) concurrent engineering and resource dependency, the purpose of this paper is to propose a sequential model reflecting the sequence of practices as well as an overview picture for a firm to achieve MC.


The model links three company antecedents – postponement orientation, operational alignment and information sharing, to three company supply chain practices – product and process modularity and supplier segmentation. These practices, in turn, lead to the company’s MC capabilities. The proposed model is tested with a data set collected from automotive suppliers in China and in the USA. Structural equation modeling is used to analyze the data and test the model.


The results suggest that, for suppliers to achieve MC, postponement orientation and operational alignment are vital antecedents. The results also reveal the important responsibility and role of information sharing practices in coordinating suppliers’ modularity practices.


This research provides three findings that are of value to both academicians and practitioners of supply chain management. First, this study originally proposed and empirically tested that a postponement orientation is an antecedent of product and process modularity and supplier segmentation to achieve MC in the automotive sector, contrary to the traditional view of parallel relationships for both. Second, it developed and verified measures of operational alignment and supplier segmentation for future research use. Third, the vital role of information sharing to coordinate internal and external supply chain practices to achieve MC is empirically supported.


This article was originally published in Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management


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