Case | HBS Case Collection | December 1991 (Revised October 1998)

Eli Lilly and Co.: Manufacturing Process Technology Strategy--1991

by Gary P. Pisano, Steven C. Wheelwright and Jonathan West


Outlines the evolution of Lilly's corporate manufacturing strategy over the past decade. The corporate vice president of manufacturing must decide on the next phase of Lilly's strategy for the early 1990s, as well as to what extent and what role process development will play. Provides data outlining three different points in the product development process at which manufacturing process development might be initiated. Using learning curve concepts and data, students can estimate the economic costs and benefits (as well as organizational issues and challenges) associated with each. Illustrates process improvement's substantial impact in a capital-intensive industry, describes possible roles of manufacturing process technology in an industry that has viewed product R&D as its primary competitive advantage, illustrates phases through which manufacturing can evolve in pursuit of comparative advantage, and introduces students to a challenging and changing industry.

Keywords: Cost vs Benefits; Management Practices and Processes; Industry Structures; Product Development; Production; Research and Development; Competitive Advantage; Corporate Strategy; Manufacturing Industry;


Pisano, Gary P., Steven C. Wheelwright, and Jonathan West. "Eli Lilly and Co.: Manufacturing Process Technology Strategy--1991." Harvard Business School Case 692-056, December 1991. (Revised October 1998.)