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Evaluating lean manufacturing barriers: an interpretive process

Linda Zhang (IESEG School of Management (LEM-CNRS), Catholic University of Lille, Lille, France)
Balkrishna Eknath Narkhede (Industrial Engineering and Manufacturing Systems Group, National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai, India)
Anup P. Chaple (Department of Production Engineering, Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Mumbai, India)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 2 October 2017




Firms have been implementing lean manufacturing to improve their business performances. However, they have difficulties in the implementation due to the many barriers. In view of the lack of research and the importance in understanding them, the purpose of this paper is identify and evaluate the lean barriers with respect to their levels of importance in implementation.


As lean barriers are scattered in the literature and a variety of performance measures are used in practice, an extensive literature review is first carried out to identify the lean barriers and performance measures. A novel ranking technique – interpretive ranking process (IRP) – is adopted in the evaluation. In the IRP-based evaluation approach, a group discussion technique, where five Indian lean experts are involved, is applied to determine the most important lean barriers and performance measures. Several matrices are developed step by step for calculating the ranks of the selected lean barriers. Upon validating the ranks, an IRP-based lean barrier evaluation model is developed.


The IRP-based lean barrier evaluation model can help firms better understand lean barriers and their levels of importance in lean implementation. In the light of this model, to successfully implement lean, firms should provide sufficient management time and training to employees, develop a right culture, develop effective communication, carry out low-cost production, and obtain external funding.

Practical implications

The evaluation results provide the practitioners with a realistic framework to deal with many problems, especially those related to resource allocation, in lean implementation. Based on the framework, practitioners can prioritize lean barriers during implementation in accordance with performances targeted.


This is the first study that provides a comprehensive review of lean barriers available in the literature and evaluates them in accordance with performance measures. The combined use of literature review and experts in the evaluation approach justifies the value of the study.



Zhang, L., Narkhede, B.E. and Chaple, A.P. (2017), "Evaluating lean manufacturing barriers: an interpretive process", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 28 No. 8, pp. 1086-1114.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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