Although lean popularity is rapidly growing, its implementation is far from problem-free and companies may experience difficulties in sustaining long-term success. On this premises, the purpose of this paper is to understand to what extent human factors, affected by the implementation of both hard (defined as technical and analytical tools) and soft (concerning people and relations) lean practices, play a key role in achieving long-term superior performance.
The analysis of the relationships between lean practices implementation, human factors and operational performance is carried out in a single exploratory case study. A retrospective approach is adopted to trace the changes of human and operational performance before, during and after the introduction of lean management (LM) implementation. In particular, a mixed method concurrent design merging results of a qualitative analysis with data collected from a survey is selected to provide a more realistic benefit in the exploration of the proposed research questions.
The results show a short-term direct relationship between the implementation of lean practices (hard and soft) and physical work environment and job characteristics, directly connected to operational outcome. In the long term, operational performance is influenced by employee behaviour outcome and conditioned by physical work environment and job characteristics with the mediating effect of individual characteristics.
The proposed model supports the building of a roadmap for LM implementation, taking into account the role of the human factors to achieve superior operational performance. Moreover, it helps managers to implement a monitoring system to check how social and technical components of a LM system evolve over time. Finally, it supports the definition of specific training programs, tailored for specific workers’ types.
This paper extends theory in LM, highlighting how hard and soft lean practices have to interact to enable a successful LM implementation.
Gaiardelli, P., Resta, B. and Dotti, S. (2019), "Exploring the role of human factors in lean management", International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 339-366. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLSS-08-2017-0094Download as .RIS
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