How did the publication of the book The Machine That Changed The World change management thinking? Exploring 25 years of lean literature

Samuel, Donna and Found, Pauline and Williams, Sharon J. (2015) How did the publication of the book The Machine That Changed The World change management thinking? Exploring 25 years of lean literature. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 35 (10). pp. 1386-1407.

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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to take a critical, analytical approach to explore the growth and spread of lean through the academic and practitioner community over the last twenty-five years. Design/methodology/approach A comprehensive and systematic review of the extant of literature of lean was undertaken. The review spans from 1988 to 2013. To enable us to effectively manage and understand the diffusion of this set of literature a database, the Lean Publications Database (LPD), was constructed. Findings Lean has evolved to be one of the best-known, yet fiercely debated, process improvement methodologies. It emerged during a proliferation of such methodologies in business and management literature. Lean has developed from a generic description of Toyota Production System (TPS) to a particular type of organizational and management intervention focused on best practice and process improvement methodologies. Research limitations/implications This paper provides the first comprehensive review of the Lean literature, from the perspective of Lean as the unit of analysis. It covers both sides of the academic debate and categories the progression of Lean from its origins as a generic description of TPS to a movement that has change management systems in many and diverse sectors. Practical implications This paper demonstrates how Lean research, application and thinking has evolved over 25 years from its origins in explaining the performance improvements in Japanese auto-manufacturing to a holistic value system that is applicable to all business sectors, both private and public. Originality/value This study is original in that provides a different perspective to that of most previous studies. In most empirical studies on Lean, the unit of analysis is the organisation. However, in this study, the unit of analysis is the Lean phenomenon itself and represents a first step to developing an underpinning theory of Lean by linking it to the theory of swift, even flow (Schmenner and Swink, 1998), as such, it of interest to academics in the field of operations management and contributes to knowledge. It is also likely to be of interest to policy makers. Considerable amounts of public money have been spent, and continue to be spent, on promoting Lean. Taxpayers and policymakers are likely to be interested in whether that expenditure is justifiable. Twenty-five years of publications have been analysed to provide clarity around this popular approach to improvement.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Lean, improvement, literature review, diffusion, spread, Toyota Production System (TPS),
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions: School of Business > Management
Depositing User: Pauline Found
Date Deposited: 25 May 2016 10:12
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2016 01:15

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