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An exploratory study of best lean sustainability practices in higher education

Clare L. Comm (University of Massachusetts‐Lowell, Lowell, Massachusetts, USA)
Dennis F.X. Mathaisel (Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 1 September 2005




Because of the ever‐expanding commercialization and marketing of higher education, a need now exists to apply the concepts of business process improvement to colleges and universities. Aims to explore this issue.


An open‐ended qualitative questionnaire was developed, administered to 18 public and private university representatives and analyzed.


The participants at these surveyed universities shared with the interviewers the institutional lean “best practices” that they feel will contribute to the sustainability of their universities.

Research limitations/implications

This is a preliminary study with a sample size of 18 universities in the Northeastern USA. Future research should include more universities in the USA, as well as in other countries.

Practical implications

Other institutions of higher education may learn from the successful implementation of the lean sustainability efforts at the institutions in this study.


Very little past research, except in the area of green marketing, has focused on lean sustainability concepts in higher education. In a recent article by the same authors, a quantitative approach was taken in assessing lean sustainability practices in higher education. This current study explores the application of lean sustainability practices using a more in‐depth qualitative approach.



Comm, C.L. and Mathaisel, D.F.X. (2005), "An exploratory study of best lean sustainability practices in higher education", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 227-240.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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