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Manufacturing Execution Systems are essential elements for vertical integration in modern automation systems because they provide the link between the centralized enterprise level and the distributed shop floor. Existing centralized MES implementations can however not properly cope with an unpredictable order flow, changes on the shop floor, or the increasing complexity of both. Distribution of the MES functionalities would allow shifting the decision making process from the enterprise down to the field level, resulting in a more flexible manufacturing system. This paper investigates how and to which extent MES functionalities can actually be distributed in different approaches with varying degree of organization and shows what affects system behavior with respect to flexibility and optimization.