Lean is today becoming increasingly popular in Swedish manufacturing industry, and the concept has also started to spread to other sectors, such as administration, healthcare and the municipal sector. However, previous studies have suggested that Lean can become “mean”, creating working conditions that are bad for the employees. Conversely, other studies instead suggest that this has less to do with Lean, than with the implementation of Lean. Thus, this paper aims at studying the implementation of Lean in eight medium sized companies over a two year period, using qualitative and quantitative data. First, the results from the qualitative data suggest that these companies implementation of Lean is characterized by Lean coordinators, pilot projects and improvements groups, while the Lean tools mostly used are 5S, SMED, standardization and means to improve the production flow. Second, the perceived effects on working conditions, based on the quantitative data, suggest an improvement in the working environment, an increase in the work with safety and some degree of increase in stress for the workers. Consequently, the implementation structure of these companies does not indicate a “mean” production system, although the long term effects on working conditions cannot be determined, based on these data.
Malmö: FALF , 2010.