State-of-the-art for Manufacturing Management: Advancing the Research Agenda and Practice through Literature Reviews


Why State-of-the-art for Manufacturing Management?

There are three purposes for a special issue on the state-of-the-art for management of manufacturing and its related supply networks, seen as the conversion of materials into products and the provision of related services using systems of resources. First, design and management of manufacturing systems and supply networks need to meet demanding and conflicting requirements. This has become apparent in recent times
with the impact of the pandemic (Covid-19), natural disasters, risks (e.g., the disruption of supply chains by human error, such as the container ship Ever Given that ran aground in the Suez Canal in March 2021), and even political tensions (for example, the recent trade war between the United States and China). Thus, manufacturing management and strategies need to address new challenges that inevitably have an impact on
manufacturing systems and supply networks. Second, as a challenge becoming more manifest, manufacturing management needs to address sustainability in a compelling manner. Manufacturing relies on materials and resources for products and servitisation, which raises the question how the (detrimental) impact on sustainability can be mitigated or how new ways can be found to structure production and supply networks. Third, digitisation offers new possibilities for managing manufacturing and its supply networks. It affects management of recurrent processes, the search for optimisation through (re)design of production systems and related supply networks, new product and service development, the interaction with  customers and other stakeholders. Such a perspective is broader than Industry 4.0. Taking stock of literature allows assessing what existing scholarly knowledge is available to address these challenges, where gaps are, what directions for research are and how practice can utilise synthesised scholarly knowledge.

Focus on Literature Reviews for Identifying Themes, Informing Practice and Setting Research Agendas

Taking stock of literature has four advantages. First, it prevents duplication of efforts. Well-written literature reviews give access to relevant literature on a specific topic or theme, and also create structure of relevant scholarly knowledge. Furthermore, they assess the strength of the evidence for specific findings and provide research agendas placed in context of the extant scholarly knowledge. Consequently, reviews can and should be a point of reference. Taking stock can be placed in frameworks for theoretical foundations, such as the distinction between mimicking, extending and transforming theoretical insight (Zahra & Newey, 2009, pp. 1066–70); an example is the review by Dekkers and Kühnle (2012) on collaborative manufacturing networks using the distinction to find how theoretical advances have been made in this domain. Finally, literature reviews could take multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspectives (see Aboelela et al., 2006). Such reviews provide additional insight into knowledge transcending individual domains, such as finance, logistics and human resources. Also, the links between strands of research into  manufacturing management and other disciplines, such as (international) business, human resources, entrepreneurship, engineering, sustainability and technology management, fall within this realm. Thus, literature reviews stimulate and trigger specific research projects, research strategies for research groups and centres, and spur research by special interest groups through providing new ideas and directions for extending and transforming existing scholarly knowledge with regard to theoretical foundations and practical implications.

Another viewpoint is that literature reviews can inform practice (and practitioners). Particularly for challenges outlined before, literature reviews can provide directions and recommendations. Evidence-based practice and best-evidence synthesis have become common practice in other domains, such as education and healthcare, but seem to be missing in the repertoire of the domain manufacturing management. Thus, there is an additional opportunity to create literature reviews that are primarily directed at practitioners.

What May Fall in the Scope of the Special Issue?

The special issue is open to a wide range of literature review types, in terms of methods, perspectives and topics. Nevertheless, we look for original literature reviews. Furthermore, targeted manuscripts are expected to explore not only topics related to manufacturing management but also links between manufacturing, supply, servitisation, and other disciplines, such as business, design and engineering, sustainability, innovation,  entrepreneurship. Furthermore, emerging concepts and technologies, including specific issues of digitisation fall within the remit of the special issue. Finally, the targeted reviews need to identify research gaps, develop theory, provide agendas for further research and discuss implications for practice. The broad view on manufacturing management leads to the following topics of interest, but not limited to:

  • The design of systems for coping with and responding to extreme surges in demand and adverse conditions:
    • Manufacturing systems.
    • Service systems related to products, including servitisation.
    • Supply networks.
    • Systems of resources, including assets and staff.
  • The role of following conceptualisations when facing adaptation, changeability, flexibility, and sustainability:
    • Digitisation of manufacturing processes.
    • New manufacturing technologies, such as additive manufacturing.
    • Collaborative networks.
    • Agility and lean thinking.
    • Resilience.
    • Skills of 21st century for operational staff.
  • The introduction of new models for manufacturing (operations) and supply networks (chains):
    • Conversion of operational resources, assets and capabilities.
    • Building robust supply chains.
    • Integration of new business models with manufacturing capabilities.
    • Digitisation of manufacturing and related services.
    • Crowdsourcing and crowd-sharing for manufacturing innovation and skills.
    • Sustainable manufacturing and supply networks.

Points of Attention for Submitting Literature Reviews

  • The guest editors are open to a broad range of narrative literature reviews and protocol-driven literature reviews, including hermeneutic approaches and metaanalyses. For preparing manuscripts it is strongly advised to consult sources about how to conduct literature reviews, especially when unfamiliar with specific aspects. A textbook that covers a wide range of approaches to literature reviews is Dekkers et al. (2021, in press). For protocol-driven literature reviews cases in point for guidance are Green et al. (2006), Seuring and Gold (2012) and Tranfield et al. (2003).
  • Literature reviews should go beyond topical surveys, as it is expected that submissions for the special issue contribute to scholarly knowledge, set out research agendas and inform practice (though the emphasis might vary depending on the focus of the review).
  • In the case of bibliometric analysis for a protocol-driven literature review, it is expected that it is complemented by a form of qualitative synthesis to arrive at meaningful conjectures and findings.
  • Literature reviews can cover theory-testing (or generating) to recommendations for best-practice (directed at manufacturing managers, supply chain managers and related functions).
  • When a protocol-driven literature review is undertaken, the use of publisher-specific databases is strongly discouraged; it is better to use generic databases and search engines, or, if appropriate, specialist databases and search engines.

Submission and Review of Papers

  • When contacting the guest editors for this special issue make sure that you copy in all guest editors to ensure a swift response. This also includes consultations about potential topics and studies.
  • Submission should follow the guidelines for the Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management; its guidelines can be found at its website:
  • Submission should be made through the ScholarOne system:
  • Submissions will be reviewed as soon as possible in line with the guidelines for the journal.


The guest editors are organising two webinars in which they will address the purpose of the special issue and answer questions:

  • Wednesday 10 November 2021, 16.00-17.00 (UK).
  • Tuesday 16 November 2021, 12.00-13.00 (UK).

These webinars will be convened by Prof Pauline Found and supported by Dr Yang Cheng. Participants are encouraged to contact them for registration and other queries related to the webinars.

Publication of Manuscripts

Note the following points complementing the publication of manuscripts by Emerald:

  • Manuscripts accepted after completing the review and revision cycle will be published under EarlyCite, if so happens well before the publication date of the special issue (so that authors can show that their papers has been accepted).
  • The deadline for submission of manuscripts is 31 December 2021. Authors that seek an extension of the deadline should contact the guest editors.
  • The special issue will be published beginning of 2023.

Guest Editors

Dr. Ir. Rob Dekkers (Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, United
Kingdom, e-mail: [email protected])
Professor Pauline Found (Cardiff Business School, University of Cardiff, United
Kingdom, e-mail: [email protected])
Dr. Yang Cheng (Department of Materials and Production, Aalborg University,
Denmark, e-mail: [email protected])


Aboelela, S.W., Larson, E., Bakken, S., Carasquillo, O., Formicola, A., Giled, S.A., Haas, J. and Gebbie, K.M. (2006), Defining Interdisciplinary Research: Conclusions from a Critical Review of the Literature. Health Services Research, Vol. 42, No. 1, Part 1, pp. 329–346. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2006.00621.x
Dekkers, R., Carey, L. and Langhorne, P. (2021, in press). Making Literature Reviews Work: A Multidisciplinary Guide to Systematic Approaches. Springer.
Dekkers, R. and Kühnle, H. (2012), Appraising interdisciplinary contributions to theory for collaborative (manufacturing) networks: Still a long way to go? Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 23, No. 8, pp. 1090–1128. doi:10.1108/17410381211276899
Green, B.N., Johnson, C.D. and Adams, A. (2006), Writing narrative literature reviews for peer-reviewed journals: secrets of the trade. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 101–117. doi: 10.1016/S0899-3467(07)60142-6
Seuring, S. and Gold, S. (2012), Conducting content-analysis based literature reviews in supply chain management. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, Vol. 17, No. 5, pp. 544–555. doi: 10.1108/13598541211258609
Tranfield, D., Denyer, D. and Smart, P. (2003), Towards a Methodology for Developing Evidence-Informed Management Knowledge by Means of Systematic Review. British Journal of Management, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 207–222. doi: 10.1111/1467-8551.00375
Zahra, S.A. and Newey, L.R. (2009), Maximizing the Impact of Organization Science: Theory-Building at the Intersection of Disciplines and/or Fields. Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 46, No. 6, pp. 1059–1075. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2009.00848.x