Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 40 credits / 60 HE credits
Problem – Lean is a concept used by organizations to become more efficient, thus more competitive. However, it has been documented that only a small portion of all implementations actually succeeds. Research has suggested critical success factors and pointed out top management commitment as being vital for a successful implementation. It is therefore confirmed that without top managers’ involvement, the venture cannot succeed. However, despite existing research on how to succeed, top managers are still lacking commitment which has caused many implementations to fail.
Purpose – This study aims to use the side-bet theory of Becker (1960) to explore the phenomena to why top managers’ commitment is vacillating during the implementation of Lean. The research question is; Why is top managers’ commitment not consistent to Lean implementation when regarding their side-bets?
Methodology – Data collecting has been qualitative where semi structured interviews have been executed with five top managers of different organizations. Some have succeeded to implement Lean and some have not. The side-bet theory has been used to create a framework for where the empirical data is constrained to.
Conclusions – Before and during the implementation, top managers are only committed to a successful implementation if they find themselves having enough penalties associated with a failed implementation. Only when they realize that there exists side-bets and penalties of enough magnitude, their commitment will be consistent and the implementation successful. The side-bets which have shown to be decisive to determine a consistent or deviating commitment are the ones belonging to ‘Generalized cultural expectations’ and ‘Impersonal bureaucratic arrangements’. The penalties associated with these side-bets have been of socially form than economically. Furthermore, these side-bets and penalties have shown to arise when top managers and their organization have made it clear that the Lean venture is of highest priority and any sidestep from it is considered as wrong.
Implications – This study has contributed with an understanding of why top manager’s commitment is consistent or deviating during the Lean implementation. Research so far has suggested how top managers’ commitment is deviating and consistent. This study provides the explanation of why. By exploring the answer to why top managers lack commitment, the possibility of ensuring consistent commitment is raised. Referring to Becker (1960) people operates only when they understand why and find value in a certain kind of activity.
Delimitations – The study is only focused on the dimension of continuance commitment. There is a possibility to study other dimensions of commitment in this field of research (i.e. affective and normative commitment). The findings are based on Swedish top managers, thus using the findings outside Sweden should be proceeded with caution since culture has effect on commitment.
2014. , 59 p.
lean, lean implementation, top management, top management commitment, side-bet theory