Tautologies, models and theories--can we find "laws" of manufacturing?
Author(s)Little, John D. C.
Sloan School of Management
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Are there "laws" of manufacturing? If so, what do they look like? If not, what other forms of knowledge might comprise intellectual foundations for a discipline of manufacturing? We differentiate among mathematical tautologies, laws, models, and theories, giving examples of each. Laws closely analogous to those of nineteenth century physics appear to be unlikely but empirical models offer the prospect of building new understanding of manufacturing, even if they may lack the precision of their classical counterparts. Descriptive models serving scientific goals tend to differ from prescriptive models for problem-solving. The latter must be complete enough to solve the practical problem at hand and yet be selective in their detail so as not to paralyze problem-solving with irrelevant complication. A growing collection of parsimonious models and theories can form a basis for the design, analysis and control of complex manufacturing systems.
"This is a revised version of Little (1992) in Manufacturing Systems: Foundations of World-Class Practice, J.A. Heim and W.D. Compton, eds."
Cambridge, Mass : Alfred P. Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Working paper (Sloan School of Management);3386-92-MSA