October 16, 2015

Canadian manufacturing was hard hit by the global recession. Compared with 2000, manufacturing GDP is down 11 percent. Employment has declined by 24 percent. Yet manufacturing continues to make a critical contribution to the Canadian economy. In order to succeed, Canadian manufacturers need to develop new strategies for competitive advantage. To help meet this challenge, Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management has released a research paper in partnership with Siemens Canada called The Future of Canadian Manufacturing: Searching for Competitive Advantage.

Future of Canadian Manufacturing

The Lawrence Centre’s has released its report, the Future of Canadian Manufacturing: Learning from Leading Firms. The studies use the school’s renowned case-method to delve into the management of nine of Canada’s most successful manufacturers from three sectors – auto parts, agri-food and diversified manufacturing. Although the leading manufacturing firms selected were diverse in both products and geography, the case-study research revealed a number of common characteristics, such as a decentralized management structure, an entrepreneurial culture, a strong focus on customer needs and innovation, and a commitment to develop skilled workers and managers internally.

The report identifies the common strategies that underlie firm success and proposes three practical actions to help more Canadian firms become internationally competitive: Develop expertise aimed at breaking into foreign markets by seeking out seasoned business executives as mentors; form partnerships with local educational institutions to bring the shop floor to the lab and the classroom and develop the next generation of skilled workers; and improve collaboration between all levels of government to successfully attract and implement foreign investment in manufacturing

The Lawrence Centre is working to implement the three recommendations outlined in the study. With funding assistance from the government of Ontario, the Trillium Advanced Manufacturing Network will bring together business, academia and government to help more Ontario firms become successful in international markets by facilitating business mentorships, encouraging greater use of educational partnerships, and improving government collaboration on investment attraction.

Download your copy of the Future of Canadian Manufacturing in the Publications Section.