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Assessing the design, management and improvement of Kaizen projects in local governments

Manuel F. Suárez-Barraza (EGADE Business School, Campus Santa Fe, Santa Fe, México)
José Á. Miguel-Dávila (Business Administration, University of León, León, Spain)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 27 May 2014




Despite the abundant literature in the private sector, a significant gap was detected in the public sector where there were only a few academic efforts to appraise or assess the implementation of the Japanese approach. The likely reason for this lack of literature is the low implementation of Kaizen that has been evidenced over the years in the public sector. Public organizations have a large number of recommendations at their disposal which are vague, abstract and even contradictory. Accordingly, the assessment of the implementation of Kaizen represents a theoretical gap, the filling of which is both necessary and vital to the body of knowledge that represents the application of continuous improvement in a public setting. Therefore, the main purpose of this paper is to evaluate the design, management and implementation of Kaizen projects in local governments through the analysis and comparison of empirical data with regard to a theoretical conceptual scheme found in the literature.


A qualitative study was conducted using a case study strategy. The case studies were conducted in three Town Halls (two in Spain and one in Mexico) with active and sustained implementation of Kaizen projects. It was verified throughout that the selected cases applied Kaizen projects for at least five years in their work processes and public services.


As a result of the empirical work the authors proposed a new specific and individualized framework for the public sector called: “Kaizen projects conceptual schemes (KPCS), based on the cycle Plan-Do-Check-Act in order to form a theoretical and practical guide that can serve as a base for local governments seeking to implement Kaizen in their management.

Research limitations/implications

The study focussed on three Town Halls (two Spanish and one Mexican), so is not possible to generalize the results.

Practical implications

El KPCS may represent an instrument of evaluation, management, development and improvement to any Kaizen effort initiated in the public sector.

Social implications

The study focussed on public service.


As far as the authors are aware, this is one of the first paper to propose a framework of Kaizen in public organizations within both academic and practitioner ambits.



The authors acknowledge financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Competitiveness grant (ECO2012-25439).


F. Suárez-Barraza, M. and Á. Miguel-Dávila, J. (2014), "Assessing the design, management and improvement of Kaizen projects in local governments", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 392-411.



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