Thesis Details

Thesis Title: Measuring Productivity through Competitive Advantage
Thesis Author: Matthew Berdine
Abstract: The purpose of this research was to examine competitive advantages that increase a firms productivity. The conceptual framework used in this study to evaluate productivity was Michael Porters Determinants of National Competitive Advantage (1990). This conceptual framework defines the variables that influence competitiveness of firms within a nations industry. Another purpose of this research was to examine issues related to product cost and outsourcing decision making. This research study focused on two product categories; performance apparel and cotton bottom weights. This research used a two-phase methodology. The first Phase was exploratory in nature and involved an analysis of production and import data for cotton bottom weights and performance apparel. An analysis of domestic and international competitors in each market was also conducted in Phase I to identify candidates for survey sample. In Phase I, a comparative cost analysis was conducted at the yarn, textile, and garment level. In addition, an examination of lead time on total product lifecycle cost was explored. The second Phase of the research used a concurrent triangulation strategy to gather primary qualitative and quantitative data through an interview methodology. The interview was conducted using a researcher developed instrument which focused on five areas; each component of Porters Determinants of National Competitive Advantage (Factor Conditions; Demand Conditions; Firm Structure, Strategy & Rivalry; and Related & Supporting Industries) as well as the sourcing criteria used by firms and issues related to product cost. Firms in both California and the Southeast were interviewed. Interviews were conducted with firms in all supply chain segments of both product categories of investigation  fiber/yarn, textile, apparel, and retail. Cost analysis in Phase I indicated that the U.S. textile and apparel industry could not compete in terms of low cost when compared to foreign exporters such as China. In order to compete, U.S. textile and apparel firms must compete through competitive advantages that differentiate their product offering. Porters Determinants of National Competitive Advantage (1990) was useful in assessing these competitive advantages. Primary research revealed that these competitive advantages include customer service focus, marketing capabilities, manufacturing superiority, and innovative product driven by research-and-development. These competitive advantages increase productivity by providing unique and superior value to customers. In addition, it was indicated that firms outsource manufacturing and raw materials to increase firm productivity. Quality, cost, and reliability of delivery were all indicated as important in terms of sourcing criteria.