Manufacturing site location is an important consideration in determining the optimal deployment of a firm's production resources, but one that is usually given only limited attention. Decisions about location are often based purely on quantitative analyses that trade off transportation costs, economies of scale, and other cost-based variables. This practice, however, can lead to suboptimal results, as decision-makers tend to focus only on easily quantifiable factors. A further disadvantage of strictly cost-based methods is that they tend to focus on cost advantage factors, which are often transitory Government regulations, tax systems, and exchange rates can quickly change. Strategies based on such parameters may eventually be rendered obsolete by the very factors that first created an advantage.

In contrast, qualitative issues, which are frequently neglected in choosing manufacturing site locations, are often central to creating and supporting a competitive advantage. For example, the level of skill possessed by the local workforce varies with location; consequently, location can affect the ability of firms to implement skill-based process technologies. When formulating a site location strategy, companies should therefore emphasize qualitative factors to ensure that the chosen strategy supports the company's overall business strategy. Only after establishing a set of desirable location options should companies refine choices using cost-based factors.

According to the passage, analysis of quantitative factors is best used for which of the following?

Determining strategies for offsetting qualitative disadvantages in manufacturing site locations

Evaluating manufacturing site-location parameters affecting long-term competitive advantage

Choosing manufacturing site locations that have access to optimal workforce populations

Narrowing manufacturing site-location options arrived it through qualitative analysis

Making decisions about business considerations other than location of manufacturing sites


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