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Reckoning with the barriers to Lean implementation in Northern Indian SMEs using the AHP-TOPSIS approach

Sachin Saini (Department of Mechanical Engineering, RIMT University, Mandi Gobindgarh, India)
Doordarshi Singh (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, India)

Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management

ISSN: 2053-4620

Article publication date: 20 May 2021




The purpose of this study is to recognize critical barriers for Lean manufacturing practices implementation in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) focusing in the context of a developing economy. The advancement of SMEs is of utmost important for a surge in exports while competing with other countries and these barriers have to be given due importance as they play a major role in stalling the overall development of SMEs.


In this present investigation, 26 barriers to Lean implementation in SMEs have been identified after an extensive study of the literature available on the subject. After that, the influential barriers were investigated through the Analytical hierarchy process-Technique of order preference by similarity to ideal solution (AHP-TOPSIS) method using priority weightage given to them by different experts in their industries. The ranking given to the barriers is based on the AHP-TOPSIS method and has been validated by the sensitivity analysis.


The investigation reveals that for the successful implementation of Lean manufacturing practices, the will of the management, individual will power and contribution of the people matter a lot apart from other barriers such as flexibility, expertise of the people, resources and resistance offered by the people to new programs. The solutions for overcoming these barriers are also provided in this study and a model has been suggested for the same.

Research limitations/implications

This work was devoted to the evaluation of obstacles in the introduction of Lean practices and prioritizing them. But it was limited to the medium- and small-scale organizations located in Northern India. Further studies can expand the scope to the large-scale units in the field. Moreover, the scope of this study was confined to the manufacturing sector. Future studies can extend it to the non-manufacturing environments such as the service sector, health care, etc. This investigation was based on the judgments of industry experts and academicians. Another approach such as Viekriterijumsko kompromisno rangiranje can be used for future investigations.


This study is significant when keeping in mind the contribution of SMEs to a country’s economy, especially in the Indian context.



Saini, S. and Singh, D. (2021), "Reckoning with the barriers to Lean implementation in Northern Indian SMEs using the AHP-TOPSIS approach", Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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