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Understanding the application of Kaizen methods in construction firms in China

Gao Shang (Department of Building, National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Low Sui Pheng (Department of Building, National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Journal of Technology Management in China

ISSN: 1746-8779

Article publication date: 5 April 2013




Kaizen or continuous improvement is a renowned Japanese management philosophy implemented in many industries all over the world. It is geared towards the everyday worker and management, and aims to continually improve the workplace, even on a small scale. The extent of implementation in China is unknown. This paper seeks to discuss this issue.


This study has the objective of filling a gap by addressing the implementation issues facing kaizen in a project setting, and employs qualitative methods to investigate the application of kaizen within large Chinese construction firms. The material for this study is taken from interviews of 27 Chinese building professionals from 16 large Chinese firms in 2011.


The interview results indicate that different types of activities associated with kaizen have been adopted by Chinese construction firms at the project level.

Research limitations/implications

There are considerable challenges identified in this study. This includes the lack of a supporting culture, compressing schedules, limited resources and especially the lack of professionals with sufficient understanding of kaizen. In order to put Chinese construction firms in a better position to implement kaizen, this study concludes with a number of strategies for overcoming these challenges.


The respondents' perceptions of kaizen, as well as its possible applications in real life projects, were sought. In addition, the infrastructure of kaizen within the Chinese construction project setting was also investigated in this study.



Shang, G. and Sui Pheng, L. (2013), "Understanding the application of Kaizen methods in construction firms in China", Journal of Technology Management in China, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 18-33.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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