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How to build a quality management climate in a small to medium enterprise: an action research project

Desmond Bishop (Kaman Aerospace, Jacksonville, Florida, USA)
Kingsley Reeves (Department of Industrial Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA)

International Journal of Lean Six Sigma

ISSN: 2040-4166

Article publication date: 18 June 2021

Issue publication date: 18 February 2022




The purpose of this paper is to share the successful lean implementation experience of a small to medium enterprise (SME) and the resultant performance improvement including the development of a quality management climate.


An action research (AR) approach was used with two successive rounds of interventions.


The results from this project show that the organization was indeed able to build a quality climate as measured by the total defect count. Results include a measurable reduction in non-conformances.

Research limitations/implications

The study took place in a single organization and, as such, it is difficult to generalize the results of the research. However, the benefit of studying one organization is the depth at which the organization may be studied. The major takeaway is that any organization of any size or any industry can increase the quality climate of the organization by intensely focusing on a minimal number of high-impact factors.


The research fills a gap identified in the literature regarding the critical success factors for lean implementation in SMEs and practitioner/academic collaboration in research activities. Moreover, there are very few research studies in the lean literature that provide the practical insights that may be garnered from an AR approach. Thus, both the context and methodological approach contribute to the literature.



Bishop, D. and Reeves, K. (2022), "How to build a quality management climate in a small to medium enterprise: an action research project", International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 342-360.



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