From Engineer-To-Order to Mass Customization

Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article – Annual report year: 2009

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Purpose - Most mass customization literature focuses on the move from mass production to mass customization. However, in some literature engineer-to-order (ETO) companies are also claiming to have become mass customizers, although it can be questioned if these companies conform to popular definitions of mass customizers. The purpose of this paper is to ask the question: under which conditions is it reasonable to label ETO companies as mass customizers? Design/methodology/approach - First, definitions of mass customization are examined and related to ETO companies that move towards mass customization. Second, the individual transitions from mass production and ETO to mass customization are analyzed by: relating the transition to classifications from relevant literature; describing the motivations and risks associated with the transition; and defining some of the most important transition characteristics. Finally it is discussed if ETO companies can become mass customizers and under which conditions it would be reasonable to describe them as such. Findings - The paper argues that from several angles it makes sense to label some ETO companies as mass customizers although the products are not at prices near mass produced ones. Research limitations/implications - To avoid dilution of the concept of mass customization, while not excluding ETO companies, it is suggested to start out with a broad definition of mass customization under which separate definitions of different kinds of mass customizers are created. Originality/value - Although much has been written about mass customization, and ETO companies in much literature have been labeled as mass customizers, the essential discussion of under which conditions it is reasonable to label ETO companies as mass customizers has been missing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalManagement Research News - Communication of Emergent Internat Management Research
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)633-644
StatePublished - 2009
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI


  • Mass customization, Bespoke production, Customer requirements, Configuration management
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ID: 3929337