Is operations management relevant?

Doran, Des, Hill, Alexander, Brown, Steve and Ektas, Emel (2012) Is operations management relevant? In: 4th Production and Operations Management (P&OM) World Conference: Serving the World; 1-5 Jul 2012, Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Unpublished)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the relevance of Operations Management teaching to the needs of business practitioners. We do this by (1) researching the content of Operations Management modules delivered by academics in the United Kingdom, and (2) comparing these results with the views of business practitioners who have had first-hand experience of Operations Management teaching on MBA programmes. Design/methodology/approach: Literature exploring both the teaching of OM and the relevance of such teaching to practitioners reveals that a gap exists in terms of the importance placed upon key content areas. To determine whether gaps still exist, the views of OM academics and practitioners were empirically tested using an online survey instrument, which explored issues relating to the content of OM modules delivered on postgraduate programmes at Universities located in the United Kingdom. Findings: The findings indicate that whilst there is a broad degree of cohesion amongst academics relating to module content there are a series of gaps between academics and practitioners in terms of the relative importance of key content areas. Such differences are most evident with regard to the emphasis placed by academics upon the delivery of Capacity management, Stock control, Supply chain management and Lean production tools and techniques. Whilst these content areas form the backbone on many Operations Management modules there relevance to practitioners appears questionable and suggests a need for academics to revisit content and to provide greater alignment between providers and users of OM education. Research limitations/implications: This is the first paper to examine the content of postgraduate OM modules at UK Universities and to compare these elements with the needs/requirements of business practitioners. In this regard the results provide a backdrop for the development of this important subject discipline to ensure that what is taught in the lecture theatre is valued in the operations environment. Originality/value: Whilst there have been a number of papers that have either explored the content of OM modules and/or the needs of practitioners none have sought to survey all academics delivering OM modules in the UK and none have sought to compare academic findings with a cross-comparison of practitioners that have completed an OM module as part of their MBA studies.

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