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Critical success factors for Lean Six Sigma programmes: a view from middle management

Graham Manville (School of Management, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK)
Richard Greatbanks (Department of Management, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Radica Krishnasamy (Ernst & Young, Zurich, Switzerland)
David W. Parker (UQ Business School, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Article publication date: 6 January 2012




Many organisations are operating in a dynamic competitive environment and experiencing increasing competition. As a result organisations in the service sector are continually seeking opportunities to remove waste and improve performance. Six sigma has been embraced by the service sector and is receiving increasing attention within both academe and practice. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate lean six sigma from a middle managers' perspective.


A mixed method approach was adopted involving a structured survey to 200 managers and semi‐structured interviews with two of the management team.


The paper highlights the importance of developing learning capabilities in the middle management team and the empowering of them. A greater role should be given to middle management in performance improvement and strategy formulation.

Research limitations/implications

The research findings only apply to one case so it is difficult to make assumptions across different sectors. More research is required with regard to change management in lean six sigma implementations.


This paper shows that developing dynamic capabilities in middle management along with a learning culture will facilitate participation in strategy formulation.



Manville, G., Greatbanks, R., Krishnasamy, R. and Parker, D.W. (2012), "Critical success factors for Lean Six Sigma programmes: a view from middle management", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 7-20.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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