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Title: Implementing, managing and working under Lean :a qualitative case analysis
Authors: Thirkell, Emma-Jayne
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to explore the broader experiences of workers, in non-manufacturing organisational contexts, of the application of Lean informed by a labour process perspective. In order to achieve the overarching aim, the author investigates how organisations are implementing Lean by utilizing core labour process theory concepts (such as management control, the frontier of control, managed participation, self-identity). This research draws on evidence from four case study organisations, all of whom are atypical in their application of Lean from a traditional labour process perspective. Fifty four interviews are conducted, supported by documental evidence, in order to explore how employees experience Lean Thinking. The findings suggest that there are problems in understanding, communicating and transferring Lean Thinking in the contexts here; and as a consequence the depth and breadth of Lean application in the four cases is very limited. There was a shared view among managers and professionals that the construction of academic freedom, in the case of UK academics, and the difficulties associated with measuring intangible contributions and outputs are significant in limiting expectations that professionals would support Lean approaches. In addition to this, a lack of empathy with the contextual relevance of Lean was demonstrated with the key training programmes. Many of the professionals here fought to maintain frontiers of control, and senior managers and sponsors acknowledged that this was inevitable. This thesis makes an important contribution to understanding some of the context-specific issues related to introducing Lean in non-automotive manufacturing, and shows how Lean travels to such settings as well as how it is received by participants. The research questions the extent to which managers themselves practised Lean, rather than merely espouse Lean, and suggests that in the contexts here managed participation is a feature of implementation.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:Newcastle University Business School

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