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Effectiveness of the product configuration task: theory formalization and test

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Quick and reliable response to customers’ needs has been argued to be a key competitive advantage when manufacturing customized products. Anecdotal evidence and case-based research point to the importance of the effective management of information on feasible product configurations in order to achieve good responsiveness. However, no empirical, large-sample test of this contention has been done as yet. Our paper begins to close this research gap by testing a theory-derived model of how information relating to product configuration determines the responsiveness in serving customers. We find that availability of information supporting the product configuration task indeed allows companies to serve their clients faster and more accurately. We also find these benefits to be mediated by the availability to learn from past product configurations.

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