Continuous improvement put into practice: Alternative approaches to get a successful quality program

Dag Swartling (Department of Management and Engineering, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)
Daniel Olausson (Department of Management and Engineering, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)

International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences

ISSN: 1756-669X

Publication date: 18 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge about what distinguishes effective continuous improvement (CI) approaches and to explain some of the mechanisms which create a successful quality program.

Design/methodology/approach

The empirical data were collected from interviews with employees at several levels in seven companies. The companies were deliberately selected to represent different types of resource consumption and outcome from a quality program.

Findings

The implementation approaches of the studied companies were classified according to four different categories: parallel, integrated, coordinated and project approaches. Companies that adopt a project approach tend to fail to achieve anything more than minor improvements, while companies that take parallel and coordinated approaches realise significant improvements but use more resources than companies that utilise an integrated approach.

Practical implications

This paper illustrates and explains why the project approach ought to be avoided. The paper also highlights the benefits of an integrated approach that is focused on learning.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to theory and practice by providing an empirically‐based explanation for the outcome of alternative implementations of CI in practice.

Keywords

Citation

Swartling, D. and Olausson, D. (2011), "Continuous improvement put into practice: Alternative approaches to get a successful quality program", International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 337-351. https://doi.org/10.1108/17566691111182870

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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