Since its introduction by Motorola in the 1980s, six sigma and its philosophy have found widespread application in many manufacturing industries. It has also inspired applications in service industries. It is felt that there is a need to take stock of the knowledge accumulated in what is now an emerging field of study and look for directions to take the application of six sigma further in services. This article aims to review six sigma application in services along five main themes. The article seeks to draw on these themes to reflect on the wider applicability of six sigma in services.
An analysis of relevant publications, citations and references was carried out using multiple databases. The impact of various key researches in this area is also discussed. The analysis then moves to discussing the necessary factors for success, key performance indicators, critical to quality characteristics, and the benefits and limitations of applying six sigma in services.
The findings are based on analysis done both quantitatively and qualitatively. The quantitative analysis shows that articles on this topic are scattered in various types of publications and there is dominance of a few articles in terms of average citation rate. The qualitative analysis shows that application of six sigma in the service sector is concentrated in a few services. The articles provide parameters to be considered for successful implementation of six sigma and there is some unanimity among articles on these parameters. Overall the literature analysis on this topic shows that six sigma is slowly but surely finding structured and beneficial application in service industries.
The quantitative and qualitative literature analysis provides the knowledge on the five themes discussed in this article. The non‐availability of citations in well‐known databases like SCI Expanded and the inflated citations by probable self‐citations limit the proper interpretation of average citation rate. Further research can be done in expanding the knowledge base on the discussed themes in different types of service industries.
The article provides a theoretical framework consisting mainly of critical success factors, critical to quality characteristics, and key performance indicators as management guidelines to widen the application of six sigma in service industries.
This article contributes with a literature review, an analysis on the articles both quantitatively and qualitatively, and discusses how their contribution can be utilized for further research on this particular topic.
Chakrabarty, A. and Chuan Tan, K. (2007), "The current state of six sigma application in services", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 194-208. https://doi.org/10.1108/09604520710735191
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