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Identifying and evaluating synergies of Lean Six Sigma and knowledge management in deliberately interlocking application

Henning Strubelt (Department of Logistics, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany)
Felix Mollenhauer (Department of Logistics, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Article publication date: 30 December 2019

Issue publication date: 23 July 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify and evaluate potential synergies between the two management approaches Lean Six Sigma (LSS) and knowledge management. Although a strong interaction between them is suspected, there is only very little academic research on their possible interrelation available. This paper aims to close this research gap.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a comprehensive literature review and a comparison of LSS and knowledge management two hypotheses on their interlocking application are formulated, discussed and evaluated.

Findings

Knowledge management supports and improves the application of LSS in various ways. In particular, the deliberate integration of communities of practice, information and communication technologies, and feedback and “lessons learned” sessions can develop potentially positive synergy effects and contribute positively to the success of LSS projects. In contrast, LSS turns out to be an inadequate methodology to significantly improve knowledge management, mainly due to the imprecise measurability of knowledge management processes.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are based on a literature review and are not supported by empirical evidence. Therefore, empirical research in this field is suggested.

Practical implications

Organizations using LSS could enhance their performance by integrating instruments of knowledge management, whereas they should critically examine LSS as a methodology for improving knowledge management.

Originality/value

Considering the existing research gap in this field, this paper encourages organizations using LSS to reflect on if and how they could integrate instruments of knowledge management into their practice to achieve better LSS results.

Keywords

Citation

Strubelt, H. and Mollenhauer, F. (2020), "Identifying and evaluating synergies of Lean Six Sigma and knowledge management in deliberately interlocking application", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 37 No. 5, pp. 801-819. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJQRM-09-2018-0257

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited