The Emerging Organizational Role of the Maintenance Function: A Strategic Perspective

Document Type


Publication Date



Purpose: With the growing importance of performance measurement and management, this exploratory study intends to examine the practices of maintenance managers with regards to maintenance measures, as used in their organizations. In this process, the study attempts to uncover the relevant maintenance performance dimensions from the perspectives of the surveyed managers. In addition, the mediating effect of information availability on the main performance measures utilization is studied. Design/methodology/approach: The research at hand is survey-based. It utilizes the responses of a sample of ninety-five (95) experienced maintenance managers to identify the most relevant maintenance performance measures. Factor analysis is then utilized to uncover the important dimensions of performance, as seen by the respondents. Additionally, using the Partial Least Squares method, several models were studied. Findings: The findings of this exploratory research appear to suggest that maintenance managers are beginning to broaden their perspective with regard to performance management. While machine and plant-related performance measures are still emphasized, maintenance managers are slowly moving toward a wider organizational orientation. While the manufacturing organizations are becoming more and more customer-oriented open systems, the maintenance function of these organizations is still, for the most part, operating under the semi-open system orientation. Overall, it appears that an emerging maintenance strategy is slowly taking shape. Research limitations/implications: For the most part, performance measures and measurement related to maintenance have not received enough attention from researchers. Therefore, the literature dealing with the different facets of performance in maintenance has not been forthcoming. The study attempts to fill this apparent gap in the literature. This is important, as maintenance managers are being asked to contribute to the achievement of the competitive strategies of their organizations. Therefore, they must quickly learn how to view maintenance from a coherent strategic organizational perspective. Such a perspective should help in integrating the maintenance, resources, capabilities, and technical know-how in order to serve the strategic goal of their organization. The research at hand is limited to a sample from Portugal. Therefore, the results and conclusions must be interpreted accordingly. Practical implications: As maintenance managers struggle to move from a machine-orientation to a more organizational-wide strategic orientation, they are often left with many questions and few answers. This study attempts to bring this problem to the spotlight so that it can receive more systematic empirical and practical research. In this context, the role of maintenance managers in the process of organizational strategy formulation should be examined. Originality/value: The study presented in this article has practical, as well as theoretical contributions. It deals with an area of performance measurement, which so far has been relatively ignored. It uses a system orientation (closed vs open), in addition to the strategic orientation (single vs multi-faceted strategy) in order to shed some light on the need to have consistency between the nature of the system and its strategic objective.