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Towards Sustainable Improvement Systems
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Quality Technology and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Improvements in general and sustainable improvements in particular are problematic areas. The failure rate is high, figures in the vicinity of 70 percent are often mentioned, but why is it so difficult to achieve sustainable improvement systems? The purpose of this dissertation is to contribute to understanding of the process and its mechanisms in creating a sustainable improvement system. The research questions are:

  • What is the process for creating a sustainable improvement system?
  • hat mechanisms influence the sustainability of improvement systems?
  • How do the different mechanisms influence the sustainability of improvement systems?

This dissertation is beyond searching for critical success factors for sustainable improvement systems but rather to identify and investigate mechanisms. Since mechanisms operate within a specific system they are by definition context dependent which critical success factors are not.

The method used to fulfil the purpose was a series of case studies. In total 13 cases has been studied through interviews, participating in meetings, working in the organisation and shadowing.

The research showed that there are major differences between different organisations in how they achieve a sustainable improvement system, despite this it was possible to a build a generic model. The model consists of three phases and three states.

The phases are initiation-transition-sustain. Each phase has a certain state that need to be reached before the next phase can start. The first state which is the outcome of the first phase is that the employees regard the changes as beneficial for them. The second state is that the employees have changed their thinking and behaviour and the third state is that the improvement system is sustainable.

Abstract [sv]

Förbättringar i allmänhet och uthålliga förbättringar i synnerhet är problematiska områden. Andelen misslyckanden är hög, siffror kring 70 procent nämns ofta, men varför är det svårt att uppnå långsiktigt uthålliga förbättringar och förbättringssystem? Syftet med denna avhandling är att bidra till förståelse av processen för att skapa långsiktigt uthålliga förbättringssystem. Forskningsfrågorna är:

  • Vilken är processen för att skapa ett uthålligt förbättringssystem?
  • Vilka mekanismer påverkar uthålligheten hos förbättringssystem?
  • Hur påverkar de olika mekanismerna förbättringssystemens uthållighet?

Denna avhandling går bortom att söka efter kritiska framgångsfaktorer för långsiktigt uthålliga förbättringssystem utan identifierar och undersöker mekanismer. Eftersom mekanismer verkar i ett specifikt system är de definitionsmässigt kontextuella vilket kritiska framgångsfaktorer inte är.

Metoden som använts för att uppfylla syftet är en serie fallstudier. Totalt 13 fall har studerats genom intervjuer, deltagande i möten, arbete i organisationen och skuggning.

Avhandlingen visar att det finns stora skillnader mellan hur olika organisationer uppnår långsiktigt uthålliga förbättringssystem, trots detta var det möjligt att bygga en generell modell, denna består av tre faser och tre tillstånd. Faserna är initiering överföring uthållighet. Varje fas har ett speciellt tillstånd som behöver uppnås innan nästa fas kan börja. Det första tillståndet är att de anställda ser förbättringarna som positiva för dem. Det andra tillståndet är att de anställda har förändrat sitt tankesätt och beteende. Det tredje tillståndet är ett uthålligt förbättringssystem.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. , 65 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1552
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-100165DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-100165ISBN: 978-91-7519-487-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-100165DiVA: diva2:660582
Public defence
2013-11-29, A2, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-10-30 Created: 2013-10-30 Last updated: 2015-01-19Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Two views on Lean production: Alternative interpretations of the Toyota production system
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Two views on Lean production: Alternative interpretations of the Toyota production system
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Lean has attracted a lot of attention, both in academia and in practice. However, there are many views about what Lean production actually is. One view focuses solely on using various tools to reduce waste, while an alternative view also focuses on changing an organization’s culture and developing employees. These two divergent views on Lean production represent the starting point of this paper, the purpose of which is to discuss the two different views and exemplify their practical implications. Four case studies were conducted and the results show that in practice there are two types of Lean: the more technical focused Scientific Management Lean (SM-Lean) and the more social-focused Human Lean (H-Lean). The primary difference between the two types is how they view employee development.

Keyword
Lean production, employee development, Lean culture, sustainable improvements
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-100159 (URN)
Available from: 2013-10-30 Created: 2013-10-30 Last updated: 2013-10-30Bibliographically approved
2. Continuous improvement put into practice: Alternative approaches to get a successful quality program
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Continuous improvement put into practice: Alternative approaches to get a successful quality program
2009 (English)In: International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, ISSN 1756-669X, E-ISSN 1756-6703, Vol. 3, no 3, 337-351 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge about what distinguishes effective continuous improvement (CI) approaches and to explain some of the mechanisms which create a successful quality program.

Design/methodology/approach – The empirical data were collected from interviews with employees at several levels in seven companies. The companies were deliberately selected to represent different types of resource consumption and outcome from a quality program.

Findings – The implementation approaches of the studied companies were classified according to four different categories: parallel, integrated, coordinated and project approaches. Companies that adopt a project approach tend to fail to achieve anything more than minor improvements, while companies that take parallel and coordinated approaches realise significant improvements but use more resources than companies that utilise an integrated approach.

Practical implications – This paper illustrates and explains why the project approach ought to be avoided. The paper also highlights the benefits of an integrated approach that is focused on learning.

Originality/value – This paper contributes to theory and practice by providing an empirically-based explanation for the outcome of alternative implementations of CI in practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2009
Keyword
Continuous improvement, Efficiency of quality program, Implementation approach, Quality programs
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-100160 (URN)10.1108/17566691111182870 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-10-30 Created: 2013-10-30 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. Management Initiation of Continuous Improvement from a Motivational Perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Management Initiation of Continuous Improvement from a Motivational Perspective
2013 (English)In: Journal of Applied Economics and Business Research, ISSN 1927-033X, E-ISSN 1927-033X, Vol. 3, no 2, 81-94 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many continuous improvement (CI) initiatives fail since management is unsuccessful in motivating the employees to actively participate in CI activities. In such cases CI often is run by managers and the power of wide participation is lost. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the mechanisms behind motivating employees to participate in CI work. The paper is based on findings from three different cases of highly successful CI organizations within different areas. The findings are that the mechanisms behind motivation for CI can be divided into respect for people and improvement system organization. Within respect for people, there need to be meaningfulness and trust, employees need to be seen as individuals, be given problem based training and education, and be given increased authority and responsibility. Within the organization of the improvement system, crucial areas are: Communication; visualization; and cross-functional, cross-professional improvement work. The paper not only shows which areas are important but explains why they are important from a motivation-theory perspective.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Journal of Applied Economics and Business Research, 2013
Keyword
Motivation, Continuous improvement, Lean production
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-100162 (URN)
Available from: 2013-10-30 Created: 2013-10-30 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
4. From Successful to Sustainable Lean Production: The Case of a Lean Prize Award Winner
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From Successful to Sustainable Lean Production: The Case of a Lean Prize Award Winner
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of mechanisms that turn an initially successful implementation of Lean production into a sustainable improvement program.

Design/methodology/approach – We performed an in-depth case study of a company that had succeeded in turning their initially successful implementation of Lean production into a sustainable improvement program. The main data collection approach included semi-structured interviews, observations and document studies. As a theoretical foundation we synthesized theories on sustainable improvement and the view of an organization as a system of interrelated, mutually adjusting components.

Findings – Many improvement programs do not persist because organizations focus on introducing new technology, processes, and practices, but fail to develop the ability to sustain the results (first-order sustainability) and the improvement program (second-order sustainability). Initial success of an improvement program can be achieved without achieving either first- or second-order sustainability. The key factor for achieving first-order sustainability is making the changes congruent with employees’ values and attitudes. For the second-order sustainability it is necessary that the improvement program itself develops over time.

Originality/value –By analyzing the case company as a system of interrelated and mutually adjusting components and looking at the sequence of changes over time, we were able to propose a set of factors that specifically contribute to the sustainability of an improvement program.

Keyword
Lean production, Improvement program, sustainability
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-100163 (URN)
Available from: 2013-10-30 Created: 2013-10-30 Last updated: 2015-01-19Bibliographically approved
5. Changing the Thinking and Behaviour of an individual: When Implementing Lean Production
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Changing the Thinking and Behaviour of an individual: When Implementing Lean Production
2013 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper consists of an introduction, and a theoretical framework treating different areas where forces can be formed. At the end of the theoretical framework a conceptual model mapping the different sources where forces can originate is presented. This is followed by a methodological part where methodological aspects are discussed. Succeeding the methodological part is the empirical part where the empirical data is presented thematically based on the conceptual model. At the end of the paper are the conclusions and managerial implications.

National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-100164 (URN)
Available from: 2013-10-30 Created: 2013-10-30 Last updated: 2015-01-19Bibliographically approved
6. The daily work of Lean leaders – lessons from manufacturing and healthcare
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The daily work of Lean leaders – lessons from manufacturing and healthcare
2013 (English)In: Total Quality Management and Business Excellence, ISSN 1478-3363, E-ISSN 1478-3371, Vol. 24, no 7-8, 886-898 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of managerial practices and leadership in Lean organisations. The results presented here are based on five case studies. The manager's role changed radically with the implementation of Lean production. The focus in managerial tasks changed from managing processes to developing and coaching people. Supporting structures were developed to empower employees and give them more responsibility for daily management activities. These supporting structures included visual control, goal deployment, short daily meetings, two-way communication flow, and a system of continuous improvement. Many leadership behaviours exhibited by Lean managers can be classified as transformational leadership behaviours. However, the need for transformational leadership behaviours was smaller, if the supporting management structure was strong.

Keyword
Lean leadership, Lean production, transformational leadership, managerial tasks
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-94169 (URN)10.1080/14783363.2013.791098 (DOI)000321238300011 ()
Available from: 2013-06-17 Created: 2013-06-17 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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