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Implementation of lean supply chain: an empirical research on the effect of context

Guilherme Luz Tortorella (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil)
Rogério Miorando (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil)
Diego Tlapa (Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Design, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, Ensenada, México)

The TQM Journal

ISSN: 1754-2731

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to empirically investigate the effect of a set of contextual variables on the implementation of lean supply chain (LSC) practices. The authors do that by investigating one main research question: “how do the contextual variables (i.e. plant size, supply chain level, level of onshore suppliers and age of the LM initiative) influence on the degree of adoption of LSC practices?”


To this end, the authors collected data from 115 companies from different sectors located in Southern Brazil. Data collected was analyzed by means of multivariate techniques. The authors tested if the frequency of observations for each contextual variable was associated to the implementation levels of the LSC practices.


The evidences suggest that supply chain context significantly impacts the likelihood of implementing LSC practices. In particular, the influence of tier level, plant size and larger experience in implementing LM seems to be substantial across a wide mix of practices. On the other hand, results indicate that contexts in which companies are still beginners at the lean journey and their level of onshore suppliers appear to be less pervasive than previous empirical researches imply.


The implementation of LSC practices entails a different business model, in which improved profits arise from the cooperation rather than bargaining or imposing power over supply chain partners. However, not all organizations should implement the same set of practices, since the adoption of any specific management practice depends upon a set of contextual variables. The understanding of the relationship between the level of adoption of LSC practices and the contextual variables helps to anticipate occasional difficulties and sets the proper expectations along the implementation.



Tortorella, G.L., Miorando, R. and Tlapa, D. (2017), "Implementation of lean supply chain: an empirical research on the effect of context", The TQM Journal, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 610-623.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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