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Implementing Lean: Discussing Standardization Versus Customization with Focus on National Cultural Dimensions
Gotland University, School of the Humanities and Social Science.
Gotland University, School of the Humanities and Social Science.
2012 (English)In: Management and Production Engineering Review, ISSN 2082-1344, Vol. 3, no 4, 4-13 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Lean or Toyota Production System (TPS) has more or less successfully been implemented in the Western world’s businesses and organizations for the past 20 years. Several authors have discussed what it is that creates a successful implementation, and several studies have been presented where strategies for implementations have been studied. Culture’s impact and possible mitigation for Western companies have been studied and described by for example Womak & Jones. Proponents of the concept of Lean argue that culture is not a constraint for implementation of Lean. Lean Management is called a philosophy but it is often used as a change strategy in the sense that it is implemented with the view of improving performance. A change strategy could be seen as a product that might have to be customized with the view of improving the effectiveness of the implementation. On the other hand abandoning a standardized approach comes with the risk of severely altering the change strategy, possibly to its detriment. Implementing Lean will have an effect on the company culture. Does it make any sense customizing the implementation to culture if the issue is changing the culture? The purpose of this paper is to highlight and discuss the balance between a customized implementation and a standardized implementation. Which are the main arguments for standardization and customization and how could these be reconciled? A literature study of Lean implementation has been carried out and compared with Lean principles and theories from change management with focus on change drivers and change barriers. Main drivers of Hofstede’s national cultural dimensions are compared with Lean principles to identify possible drivers and barriers in different cultures. The theory synthesis on drivers and barriers is subjected to a first test in a case study on Lean implementation according to a standardized approach. The implementation is made in a small Swedish factory belonging to a worldwide industrial company. Results from the literature review and the case study indicate that both customization and standardization are needed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Opole: Polish Association for Production Management , 2012. Vol. 3, no 4, 4-13 p.
Keyword [en]
Lean, Lean implementation, change management, customization, cultural dimensions.
National Category
Engineering and Technology Reliability and Maintenance
Research subject
Quality Technology and Management
URN: urn:nbn:se:hgo:diva-1764DOI: 10.2478/v10270-012-0029-6OAI: diva2:603367
Available from: 2013-02-07 Created: 2013-02-05 Last updated: 2013-07-01Bibliographically approved

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