Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Workforce Education and Development

First Advisor

Freeburg, Elizabeth


ABSTRACT The increasingly competitive nature of the manufacturing industry has forced manufacturers to examine alternatives to traditional management philosophies. Although lean's success had been proven it was not uncommon for companies that opt to implement lean concepts to meet with mixed results and sometimes even outright failure. The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship between organizational characteristics and issues associated with lean implementation. The study identified the following organizational characteristics (a) organizational leadership, (b) organizational culture, and (c) organizational change and examined the role each played in lean implementation efforts. The study also looked at sixteen individual (d) intrinsic organizational characteristics to determine the extent to which each impacted lean implementation efforts. The study utilized both qualitative and quantitative research tools. The qualitative component utilized both document analysis and interviews. The interviews were conducted with area business leaders who were members of the Department of Technology's Industrial Advisory Committee at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The quantitative component utilized a separate on-line survey that was developed and administered to members of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association. Results indicated highly capable leadership was the number one indicator of success for organizations that made the transition to lean. Other key factors included communication channels with an effective feedback system, the development of collaborative relationships between management and employees, being well versed in the practice of change management, and understanding how to effect change of cultural mores within an organization. The implications of understanding how the organizational characteristics discussed in the study affected lean implementation empowered organizations to effect change more successfully. The goal of implementing lean successfully required much more than a step by step process of implementing the lean tools in a particular order. It required a broad understanding of the things which cannot be seen; things such as, what constitutes highly capable leadership, knowing how to change the mores of organizational culture, and understanding how to overcome the barriers to successful change management. Understanding these complex relationships provided the basis upon which to advance lean implementation theory where it had been only marginally successful.




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