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HR management during lean production adoption

Pedro José Martínez‐Jurado (Department of Business Organization, Marketing and Sociology, University of Jaén, Linares, Spain)
José Moyano‐Fuentes (Department of Business Organization, Marketing and Sociology, University of Jaén, Linares, Spain)
Pilar Jerez Gómez (Department of Management, University of Almería, Almería, Spain)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 26 April 2013




This paper aims to identify the success factors linked to human resources management during the lean production (LP) adoption process. A model of these factors and their interrelationships is also to be built to understand the sequence that leads to the cultural change required in lean production adoption.


A case study is carried out in selected same‐industry companies that are on the same level in the supply chain and have recently completed LP adoption. Twelve first‐tier production plants in the aeronautics industry were selected. Data were gathered from interviews with plant managers and the people in charge of LP in the plant. Data were analyzed using open and coaxial coding and triangulation both within cases and across cases.


The results highlight a number of success factors that depend on the phase of the LP adoption process. In the phase prior to adoption, the success factors are the incorporation of external change agents and the management averting inertia, whereas in the other phases of the adoption process five main factors were found: training, communication, rewards, job design and work organization.

Research limitations/implications

The findings stress the importance of human resources being managed appropriately during LP adoption for LP to be accepted and adapted. There are a number of key aspects related to human resource management that should be taken into account during each of the phases that occur during the LP adoption process. Further developments include measuring the intensity of the relationships identified and combining qualitative and quantitative methodologies simultaneously to overcome problems with the limited generalization of the results.

Practical implications

Practitioners in charge of LP adoption must be mindful of the key human resource management‐related aspects before and during the LP adoption process and the guidelines to be followed in each of these aspects for the outcomes of LP to be achieved and maintained.


This paper contributes to research in the area of the role that people play in LP with a new line of research centered on the role of human resource management during the LP adoption process. Unlike prior research, this study analyzes the changes that take place in human resource management from the time the company makes the decision to adopt LP until it is implemented.



José Martínez‐Jurado, P., Moyano‐Fuentes, J. and Jerez Gómez, P. (2013), "HR management during lean production adoption", Management Decision, Vol. 51 No. 4, pp. 742-760.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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