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Title: Industry 4.0 Technologies in Flexible Manufacturing for Sustainable Organizational Value: Reflections from a Multiple Case Study of Italian Manufacturers
Authors: Margherita, Emanuele Gabriel 
Braccini, Alessio Maria 
Issue Date: 2020
In this study, we analyse the value creation of Industry 4.0 (I40) technologies in flexible manufacturing (FM) under a sustainability perspective. I40 is a popular strategy that Western manufacturing organizations adopt to face competition from low-cost producers. Organizations adopting I40 use advanced digital technologies to make production processes more flexible and increasingly automated. Several pieces of evidence confirm how I40 leads to higher productivity and higher-quality products, improving the economic performance of organizations. However, increasing automation may also lead to the reduction of human labour in the production process, which may contribute to the disappearance of jobs, the reduction of expertise and the loss of know-how in manufacturing organizations. While the literature acknowledges the technical and economic advantages of I40, the sustainability of the value created through these technologies deserves further investigation. To address the gap, we complement the IT value theory with the concept of sustainability, including the three dimensions of economic, environmental and social sustainability. We perform a multiple case study analysis of four Italian manufacturing organizations that have successfully implemented I40 technologies in FM. The cases show that I40 technologies support sustainable organizational value when they are deployed with a worker-centric approach. In this condition, the organization leverages workforce activities to continuously fine-tune the technologies and to exploit the adaptive features of the technologies to continuously improve processes.
ISSN: 1387-3326
DOI: 10.1007/s10796-020-10047-y
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