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Implementing 5S within a Japanese context: an integrated management system

Rod Gapp (Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Bundall, Australia)
Ron Fisher (Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Bundall, Australia)
Kaoru Kobayashi (Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Bundall, Australia)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 2 May 2008




Building on previous studies of the managerial application and development of the 5S concept (5S), this research aims to identify and present key concepts of 5S from a Japanese management perspective. These findings link 5S to aspects of Japanese management approach, which are aligned to an integrated management system rather than a simple management tool or technique.


Data were collected from Japanese companies that use 5S as a core management approach and use their organisational web sites to disseminate information in regard to this practise. The data were examined by the use of computer‐aided lexical analysis (Leximancer), which provided an insight into the nature of 5S within the original Japanese context.


The research found several key concepts behind the Japanese approach to 5S management. These findings demonstrate the importance of both the technical (visible) and philosophical (invisible) approaches required for each of the 5S components and are discussed in a managerial rather than cultural framework.

Practical implications

The findings are important both theoretically and practically as they provide insight into the meaning and logic, applied to the application of the 5S management approach within its original environmental context.


The originality and value of the paper is derived from the holistic understanding of the application of 5S and its use as a problem‐solving intervention at the system or process level; a necessary initiating point within lean management philosophies. 5S within the context identified is the strategic platform for the managerial decisions required for the development of an integrated management system.



Gapp, R., Fisher, R. and Kobayashi, K. (2008), "Implementing 5S within a Japanese context: an integrated management system", Management Decision, Vol. 46 No. 4, pp. 565-579.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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