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– The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of manufacturing leadership in enhancing manufacturing performance for different manufacturing configurations.


– Survey data collected from three levels of respondents in excess of 480, from 98 manufacturing units in the USA are used to test the study hypothesis using the cluster analysis and regression models.


– Effective leadership is positively associated with overall manufacturing performance beyond the fixed effects of organizational variables, such as competitive orientation and industry membership. The manufacturing leadership, however, does not seem to affect customer satisfaction.

Research limitations/implications

– The paper illustrates the use of behavioral theory of leadership in the context of managing operations with varying competitive orientations in different industries. Future research should, however, attempt to match different leadership practices/styles to different competitive orientations, and include employee characteristics, such as subordinates' prior experience, training, or skills that may influence the need for demonstrating the leadership practices differently for different competitive orientations.

Practical implications

– As manufacturers pursue a combination of priorities, their manufacturing managers need to use a gamut of effective leadership practices, such as planning, delegating, inspiring, etc. Manufacturers may also note that effective manufacturing leadership enhances performance on a host of measures, such as quality, timeliness, efficiency, etc. which are directly influenced by the manufacturing group. For measures, such as customer satisfaction, manufacturing leadership needs to be augmented by managing customer expectations and by being more flexible in accommodating customers' requirements.


– This is the first study to deploy multiple respondents to simultaneously examine the effects of competitive orientation and leadership practices on manufacturing performance.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in International Journal of Operations & Production Management, volume 30, issue 10, in 2010 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.1108/01443571011082535.

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