The purpose of this paper is to compare the practices of continuous improvement that are applied in medium and large manufacturing and service companies in two Latin American countries. At the same time, benefits and barriers experienced by these companies with regard to sustainability of continuous improvement are explored.
In order to generate a comparative study between two Latin American countries, interviews were conducted with managers linked to continuous improvement in medium and large companies in the State of Puebla and the Metropolitan District of Quito, which are important areas in Mexico and Ecuador, respectively. Data were collected by means of document analysis, semi-structured interviews, and direct observation.
Companies in both countries identify the use of various techniques and/or tools for continuous improvement. The results of the empirical evidence show how the impact of the application of the techniques has been beneficial in economic and human terms. Thus, the exploratory study has permitted the identification of the drivers and inhibitors in the maintenance of continuous improvement.
The research is based on only two areas of the Latin American countries: Mexico and Ecuador. Their results can therefore not be generalized. The approach is applied in a specific environment, namely, the State of Puebla and the Metropolitan District of Quito. This study incorporates the perception of managers, directors, and/or supervisors involved in continuous improvement processes.
This paper seeks to provide analytical input. The study is of great interest to researchers, managers, consultants, and professionals linked to projects of continuous improvement who wish to incorporate continuous improvement practices which are sustainable over time. A new managerial behavior is the basis of continuous improvement, where the training and development of the human resource increases the commitment to achieve organizational changes.
This research makes an empirical contribution to the literature through the understanding of practices of continuous improvement in a Latin American context, highlighting the factors that improve or impede the process of continuous improvement. Particularly in Mexico and Ecuador, the empirical evidence on this subject is still scarce despite the existence of theoretical academic literature.
Alvarado-Ramírez, K.M., Pumisacho-Álvaro, V.H., Miguel-Davila, J.Á. and Suárez Barraza, M.F. (2018), "Kaizen, a continuous improvement practice in organizations: A comparative study in companies from Mexico and Ecuador", The TQM Journal, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 255-268. https://doi.org/10.1108/TQM-07-2017-0085
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