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Article
Publication date: 10 April 2018

Karla María Alvarado-Ramírez, Víctor Hipólito Pumisacho-Álvaro, José Ángel Miguel-Davila and Manuel F. Suárez Barraza

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…

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Research limitations/implications

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.

Practical implications

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.

Originality/value

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.

Details

The TQM Journal, vol. 30 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2731

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2012

Pedro C. Oprime, Glauco Henrique de Sousa Mendes and Márcio Lopes Pimenta

The objective of this article is to identify and analyze critical factors in the development of continuous improvement (CI) activities in Brazilian companies.

Abstract

Purpose

The objective of this article is to identify and analyze critical factors in the development of continuous improvement (CI) activities in Brazilian companies.

Design/methodology/approach

A conceptual model of the relationship between practices and results was tested to identify the critical factors using a survey conducted in 46 industrial companies. Non‐parametric tests were used to test some hypotheses developed based on the literature.

Findings

The results indicate the importance of staff training in problem solution tools, incentives for suggestions, face‐to‐face communication and regular shop floor visits such as critical factors for the success of continuous improvement activities (CI). Operational practices of CI contribute to company performance in relation to improvements in productivity, quality, lead time, cost, customer satisfaction and development of employees’ skills to solve problems.

Research limitations/implications

Although the detected constructs are fairly accurate, they are still subject to improvements and new dimensions can be incorporated to them.

Practical implication

These critical factors are related to actions that encourage employees to participate in CI activities and incentive mechanisms to be able to apply identification techniques and tools successfully, as well as find solution to problems.

Originality/value

The results of this work provide a thorough understanding of the success drivers when conducting CI activities.

Details

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, vol. 61 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-0401

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Article
Publication date: 26 October 2020

Parker Morse Andreoli and Hans W. Klar

The purpose of this study is to examine how a school leadership team in a rural, high-poverty elementary school learned to lead continuous school improvement in a research…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine how a school leadership team in a rural, high-poverty elementary school learned to lead continuous school improvement in a research–practice partnership.

Design/methodology/approach

This case study draws on qualitative research methods, improvement science and Deming's notion of a system of profound knowledge to identify how members of the school leadership team understood and approached their school improvement work differently as a result of engaging in continuous improvement processes in a research–practice partnership.

Findings

The findings illustrate how engaging in continuous improvement processes in the research–practice partnership enhanced the leadership team members' capacities to prioritize and solve problems, incorporate multiple and diverse perspectives in problem-solving efforts and establish a culture of increased risk-taking and ownership of teaching and learning outcomes. In sum, the members of the leadership team became the drivers of their own change processes.

Originality/value

The findings provide insight into how leaders in rural, high-poverty schools can build capacity within their schools to meet the demand for increased student achievement by leading collaborative, continuous improvement processes grounded in improvement science in research–practice partnerships.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 59 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 2 February 2010

Florian Becker‐Ritterspach, Ayse Saka‐Helmhout and Jasper J. Hotho

With a few exceptions, the mainstream literature on learning in multinational enterprises (MNEs) has shown little concern for the transformational nature and the social…

Abstract

Purpose

With a few exceptions, the mainstream literature on learning in multinational enterprises (MNEs) has shown little concern for the transformational nature and the social constitution of learning. This paper aims to address this gap by drawing on Scandinavian institutionalism, social learning perspectives, and comparative institutionalism.

Design/methodology/approach

A comparative case study of two subsidiaries of the same MNE was conducted. The subsidiaries received similar practices from headquarters (HQ) but displayed contrasting learning outcomes.

Findings

It is shown that learning outcomes differed based on the varying extent to which practices were translated, which depends on the participation of local actors. The difference in participation pattern, in turn, is rooted in differences in the institutional context of the two subsidiaries.

Research limitations/implications

It is recognized that apart from institutional influences, organizational idiosyncrasies may be at work. In addition, the paper briefly considers the extent to which the notion of contrasting forms of capitalism is still useful when comparing the German and British institutional contexts.

Practical implications

The findings highlight the importance of involving employees in the translation of new practices. A challenge for MNEs is that learning of new practices can differ by institutional context. Where enabling institutional conditions are absent, conscious effort may be needed to ensure employee participation.

Originality/value

This paper highlights that MNE practice transfer rests on the translation of the practice content to the local context, and that subsidiary‐level learning processes may be institutionally embedded, thus establishing a link between subsidiary learning and the macro‐level context. As such, this paper both illustrates the value of social learning perspectives and the relevance of the work of institutionalists for understanding MNE learning processes.

Details

Critical perspectives on international business, vol. 6 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-2043

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Article
Publication date: 14 March 2016

Rodrigo Valio Dominguez Gonzalez and Manoel Fernando Martins

The current state of the art on continuous improvement takes into consideration that capabilities and organizational behaviors are more important elements for conduction…

Abstract

Purpose

The current state of the art on continuous improvement takes into consideration that capabilities and organizational behaviors are more important elements for conduction and sustainability than the technical aspects. This set of capabilities and behaviors, initially addressed by Bessant and Caffyn in the 1990s, essentially considers that organizations should build an environment focussed on continuous learning. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to analyze the development of capabilities that support continuous improvement programs in two distinct productive environments: the automotive sector and the custom made capital goods sector.

Design/methodology/approach

From a theoretical reference on the subject, a set of capabilities that are related to the practice of continuous improvement is raised and, through a qualitative approach, four companies of the two sectors considered are analyzed using a case study strategy.

Findings

The research results suggest that the companies researched in the automotive sector have a higher level of employee engagement in relation to continuous improvement programs compared to the companies in the capital goods sector, which is justified by the strategy adopted by the organizations.

Research limitations/implications

As any qualitative approach, this research presents restrictions regarding the generalization of the results for the studied sectors.

Originality/value

The contribution of this paper can be divided into two parts. The first one refers to the identification of a current framework of capabilities that support continuous improvement, and the second one is the evaluation of the development of these capabilities in two sectors with different productive contexts (automotive and custom made capital goods).

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2020

Vathsala Wickramasinghe and M.N. Chathurani

This study investigates the effect of continuous improvement initiatives in streamlining HRM practices in Sri Lanka.

Abstract

Purpose

This study investigates the effect of continuous improvement initiatives in streamlining HRM practices in Sri Lanka.

Design/methodology/approach

Survey methodology was used and 217 respondents who fulfilled the selection criteria set for the study responded. Structural equation modelling was performed to examine the hypothesized relationships.

Findings

The analysis supported the hypotheses that continuous improvement initiatives significantly positively influence to streamline HRM practices of performance management, job-related training, employee involvement and team work.

Practical implications

Continuous improvement initiatives that are aligned with the strategic direction of firms guide to design and implement better focused HRM practices.

Originality/value

The failure to streamline HRM practices in accordance with continuous improvement initiatives has been identified as a key barrier for the effective utilization of human resources. Although continuous improvement initiatives demand changes in the way HRM is practiced, so far, little empirical attention has been paid to understand the implications of continuous improvement initiatives for HRM practices.

Details

Business Process Management Journal, vol. 27 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-7154

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Article
Publication date: 10 April 2019

Juan José Tarí, Jorge Pereira-Moliner, José F. Molina-Azorín and María D. López-Gamero

This paper aims to examine the impact of external and internal drivers on the dimensions of internalization (daily practices and continuous improvement) of quality…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the impact of external and internal drivers on the dimensions of internalization (daily practices and continuous improvement) of quality standards, the relationship between the dimensions of internalization and their effects on customer, employee, society and organizational results in hotels.

Design/methodology/approach

The study applies a structural equations analysis to test these relationships using empirical data from 176 quality-certified hotels.

Findings

Hotels need internal drivers to internalize a quality system because the external drivers themselves are not able to explain significantly the quality internalization process. This paper shows the significant relationship between the dimensions of internalization (daily practices and continuous improvement) and the importance of continuous improvement (e.g. innovations from quality standards and reflection on how to improve the current work processes) for improved customer, employees, society and organizational results.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, there are no empirical studies jointly analyzing the drivers of internalization, the relationship between the dimensions of internalization and their effects on different dimensions of results (customers, employees and society) in hotels.

Details

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, vol. 31 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-6119

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Article
Publication date: 12 October 2015

Joyce Nawelwa, Chanda Sichinsambwe and Bupe Getrude Mwanza

Total quality management (TQM) is a management approach that was established to seek sources of continuous motion of improvement to provide quality products and services…

Abstract

Purpose

Total quality management (TQM) is a management approach that was established to seek sources of continuous motion of improvement to provide quality products and services to customers or clients. TQM promotes organizational effectiveness through promoting stakeholder satisfaction, pursuing continuous improvement and fostering proactive leadership. The purpose of this paper is to explore TQM practices in secondary schools. The researchers set objectives which were to identify the TQM principles being practiced in secondary schools, the extent to which these principles are practiced and finally to determine the factors that affect the practice of these principles. The paper includes findings from an exploratory study of TQM practices in Zambian secondary schools.

Design/methodology/approach

The research employed a purposive and simple random sampling in order to collect data from 120 secondary school teachers from a total of 1,740 secondary school teachers in Lusaka district drawn from ten secondary schools which were stratified into five zones, namely, Lusaka Central, Chilenje, Mumuni, Chibolya and Chunga zones. Questionnaires and structured scheduled interviews were used to collect data for the research. The research was also anchored on the theoretical and conceptual framework where hypotheses were formed and tested.

Findings

The research formed hypotheses based on the seven principles of TQM and this was also verified through the analysis of questionnaires and structured interviews conducted. From the analysis and interpretation of the results, the following was found. Teamwork principle was found to be practiced although most respondents did not know the extent to which it was been practiced. Continuous improvement and training are also principles which were explored and found to be practiced. For continuous improvement, most of the respondents indicated this to have been achieved through carrying out monthly tests and end of term examinations to measure the excellence in-service delivery, as for the training principle; this has been interwoven with the policy of the ministry in programmes aimed at training in-service teachers and anticipated teachers. For the commitment principle, there was commitment from management with a view to working together for pupil satisfaction. For the quality principle, it was found that, at 95 per cent confidence level the mission statement, the motto and the vision of the school depicted quality-related activities. The research also established that at 95 per cent confidence level, teachers were empowered to take direct action whenever action is likely to affect quality.

Practical implications

First, the value of this research was to inform management on the need to employ strategies aimed at sensitization programmes before, during and after the programme has come to an end. Second, to promote work attitudes that should promote quality management in education for continuous improvement in pupil performance. Third, for TQM to create a platform among head teachers, teachers, pupils, parents and other stakeholders to work to everyone’s ultimate advantage.

Originality/value

This research is original work as it has never been done before in Lusaka district.

Details

The TQM Journal, vol. 27 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2731

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Article
Publication date: 16 January 2007

Taina Savolainen and Arto Haikonen

The purpose of this paper is to examine the dynamics of organizational learning and continuous improvement (CI) in the context six sigma implementation in business…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the dynamics of organizational learning and continuous improvement (CI) in the context six sigma implementation in business organizations operating in multicultural environments.

Design/methodology/approach

A specific research question is: does learning mechanisms and continuous improvement practices support each other and how, and what type of learning can be identified in the improvement of business processes. The question is linked to one of the fundamental issues currently discussed in the field of organizational learning; how do organizations get “from here to there”, in other words, what is the dynamics of the processes of learning and how progressive learning is achieved. A case study of a few Finnish companies is made and a procedural implementation model is applied.

Findings

The findings suggest that the learning process is characterized by measurement, detection and correction of errors, and cost reduction. In six sigma implementation, learning is a single‐loop type of learning. It is an incremental change process which reminds a technical variant of the learning organization. Continuous improvement occurs through procedural practices (the DMAIC‐cycle) which forms a structure for sustaining learning.

Research limitations/implications

In this study, an essential question remains still unanswered: what type of learning is appropriate when organizational performance is enhanced by process improvements in production, delivery processes, etc. and what kind of learning mechanisms are the most supportive to continuous improvement practices. Further research is needed to find out how (if at all) the technical (single‐loop) approach develops into social (cultural and political) type of learning enabling sustainable capability development. For researching this a longitudinal case study setting would be required. As this paper has reported on the authors' first exploration, further research is needed to increase understanding of learning mechanisms that support CI practices. In further studies it is necessary to “dig” in real life practices of six sigma implementation more deeply.

Practical implications

Management should invest in, and allocate resources to staff training in order to promote learning and CI. On the level of operational leadership, the role of the leaders needs to be more clearly defined and leaders should be empowered. Managerial implication is that the development of information systems is a necessity for supporting CI and progressive learning in six sigma implementation.

Originality/value

Explains the dynamics of continuous improvement and learning process. Presents findings from a case study in three Finnish multinational companies. Presents a few key success factors for progressive organizational learning in conclusion.

Details

The TQM Magazine, vol. 19 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0954-478X

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2005

Lars Nilsson‐Witell, Marc Antoni and Jens J. Dahlgaard

Continuous improvement has become an important strategy in improving organizational performance. Unfortunately, product development is often excluded in continuous

Abstract

Purpose

Continuous improvement has become an important strategy in improving organizational performance. Unfortunately, product development is often excluded in continuous improvement programs due to the special characteristics of product development activities. The overall purpose of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of continuous improvement in the context of product development.

Design/methodology/approach

A central aspect in this context is that many organizations find it difficult to improve and learn if work is carried out in the form of projects. In this paper, a quality perspective on continuous improvement is introduced and its usefulness is tested empirically through three case studies in Swedish organizations. The focus is on the improvement programs used and the quality principles displayed in a product development context.

Findings

The results show that the three investigated organizations have multiple improvement programs, but that some configurations of improvement programs seem to be more successful than others. For instance, co‐ordination of multiple improvement programs, scope creep, and separating between product development processes and project management models are important success factors for continuous improvement. In addition, an introduction of an improvement program without adoption of a critical mass of quality principles is doomed to fail.

Originality/value

The research initiative is one of the first to conduct an empirical investigation of how organizations design and work with improvement programs in the context of product development. It provides knowledge to both academics and practitioners on how organizations can design and implement initiatives on quality management, especially in the context of product development.

Details

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, vol. 22 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-671X

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