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Lean production, Toyota Production System and Kaizen philosophy: A conceptual analysis from the perspective of Zen Buddhism

Andrea Chiarini (University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy) (Chiarini & Associati, Ferrara, Italy)
Claudio Baccarani (Department of Business Administration, University of Verona, Verona, Italy)
Vittorio Mascherpa (Formazione Umana Globale, Grezzana, Italy)

The TQM Journal

ISSN: 1754-2731

Article publication date: 30 May 2018

Issue publication date: 25 July 2018

11988

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare principles from the original Toyota Production System (TPS), the Toyota Way 2001 and Kaizen philosophy with principles derived from Japanese Zen Buddhism. The paper would also like to enlarge the debate concerning some lessons learnt from Japanese culture in order to avoid Lean implementation failures.

Design/methodology/approach

The original English version of Taiichi Ohno’s book dedicated to the TPS, the Toyota Way 2001 and other relevant papers regarding Kaizen were reviewed and analyzed. The principles that emerged from the review of this literature were then compared with similar philosophical principles from Japanese Soto Zen Buddhism. The literature concerning Zen philosophy was methodically analyzed and categorized using the content analysis.

Findings

The results of this research show many theoretical parallelisms as well as lessons for practitioners, in particular referring to principles such as Jidoka, just-in-time, waste identification and elimination, challenge, Kaizen, Genchi Genbutsu, respect for people and teamwork.

Research limitations/implications

Analysis and results are mainly based on the literature that was found, reviewed and categorized, along with the knowledge of authors on Zen philosophy. Results could differ depending on the literature reviewed and categorized.

Practical implications

The results of this research bring food for thought to practitioners in terms of lessons learnt from Japanese culture, Toyota principles and management style in order to avoid Lean implementation failures.

Originality/value

This is one of the first papers which compares Lean-TPS and Kaizen principles with the Zen philosophy to try to learn lessons for succeeding in Lean implementation.

Keywords

Citation

Chiarini, A., Baccarani, C. and Mascherpa, V. (2018), "Lean production, Toyota Production System and Kaizen philosophy: A conceptual analysis from the perspective of Zen Buddhism", The TQM Journal, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 425-438. https://doi.org/10.1108/TQM-12-2017-0178

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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