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Six sigma in small‐ and medium‐sized UK manufacturing enterprises: Some empirical observations

Jiju Antony (Centre for Research in Six Sigma and Process Improvement (CRISSPI), Caledonian Business School, Glasgow, UK)
Maneesh Kumar (Centre for Research in Six Sigma and Process Improvement (CRISSPI), Caledonian Business School, Glasgow, UK)
Christian N. Madu (Department of Management and Management Science, Lubin School of Business, Pace University, New York, New York, USA)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Article publication date: 1 October 2005

Abstract

Purpose

Six sigma for small‐ and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) is an emerging topic among many academics and six sigma practitioners over the last two to three years. Very few studies have been reported about the successful applications of six sigma in SMEs. The purpose of this paper is to provide an analysis of six sigma implementation in UK manufacturing SMEs.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents an extensive literature review based on the experiences of both academics and practitioners on six sigma within an SME environment. The paper highlights the strengths and weaknesses associated with SMEs, followed by the results of a six sigma survey in UK manufacturing SMEs. The results of the study are based primarily on descriptive statistics.

Findings

The results of the study show that many of the SMEs are not aware of six sigma and many do not have the resources to implement six sigma projects. It was also found that lean sigma was not generally popular among SMEs. Management involvement and participation, linking six sigma to customers and linking six sigma to business strategy are the most critical factors for the successful deployment of six sigma in SMEs.

Originality/value

This paper reports the first study on the status of six sigma implementation in UK SMEs. The paper will yield a great value to academics, consultants, researchers and practitioners of six sigma.

Keywords

Citation

Antony, J., Kumar, M. and Madu, C.N. (2005), "Six sigma in small‐ and medium‐sized UK manufacturing enterprises: Some empirical observations", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 22 No. 8, pp. 860-874. https://doi.org/10.1108/02656710510617265

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited