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Continuous improvement put into practice: Alternative approaches to get a successful quality program
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Quality Technology and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Project management, Innovations and Entrepreneurship . Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2009 (English)In: International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, ISSN 1756-669X, Vol. 3, no 3, 337-351 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge about what distinguishes effective continuous improvement (CI) approaches and to explain some of the mechanisms which create a successful quality program.

Design/methodology/approach – The empirical data were collected from interviews with employees at several levels in seven companies. The companies were deliberately selected to represent different types of resource consumption and outcome from a quality program.

Findings – The implementation approaches of the studied companies were classified according to four different categories: parallel, integrated, coordinated and project approaches. Companies that adopt a project approach tend to fail to achieve anything more than minor improvements, while companies that take parallel and coordinated approaches realise significant improvements but use more resources than companies that utilise an integrated approach.

Practical implications – This paper illustrates and explains why the project approach ought to be avoided. The paper also highlights the benefits of an integrated approach that is focused on learning.

Originality/value – This paper contributes to theory and practice by providing an empirically-based explanation for the outcome of alternative implementations of CI in practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2009. Vol. 3, no 3, 337-351 p.
Keyword [en]
Continuous improvement, Efficiency of quality program, Implementation approach, Quality programs
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-100160DOI: 10.1108/17566691111182870OAI: diva2:660540
Available from: 2013-10-30 Created: 2013-10-30 Last updated: 2013-10-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Towards Sustainable Improvement Systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards Sustainable Improvement Systems
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Improvements in general and sustainable improvements in particular are problematic areas. The failure rate is high, figures in the vicinity of 70 percent are often mentioned, but why is it so difficult to achieve sustainable improvement systems? The purpose of this dissertation is to contribute to understanding of the process and its mechanisms in creating a sustainable improvement system. The research questions are:

  • What is the process for creating a sustainable improvement system?
  • hat mechanisms influence the sustainability of improvement systems?
  • How do the different mechanisms influence the sustainability of improvement systems?

This dissertation is beyond searching for critical success factors for sustainable improvement systems but rather to identify and investigate mechanisms. Since mechanisms operate within a specific system they are by definition context dependent which critical success factors are not.

The method used to fulfil the purpose was a series of case studies. In total 13 cases has been studied through interviews, participating in meetings, working in the organisation and shadowing.

The research showed that there are major differences between different organisations in how they achieve a sustainable improvement system, despite this it was possible to a build a generic model. The model consists of three phases and three states.

The phases are initiation-transition-sustain. Each phase has a certain state that need to be reached before the next phase can start. The first state which is the outcome of the first phase is that the employees regard the changes as beneficial for them. The second state is that the employees have changed their thinking and behaviour and the third state is that the improvement system is sustainable.

Abstract [sv]

Förbättringar i allmänhet och uthålliga förbättringar i synnerhet är problematiska områden. Andelen misslyckanden är hög, siffror kring 70 procent nämns ofta, men varför är det svårt att uppnå långsiktigt uthålliga förbättringar och förbättringssystem? Syftet med denna avhandling är att bidra till förståelse av processen för att skapa långsiktigt uthålliga förbättringssystem. Forskningsfrågorna är:

  • Vilken är processen för att skapa ett uthålligt förbättringssystem?
  • Vilka mekanismer påverkar uthålligheten hos förbättringssystem?
  • Hur påverkar de olika mekanismerna förbättringssystemens uthållighet?

Denna avhandling går bortom att söka efter kritiska framgångsfaktorer för långsiktigt uthålliga förbättringssystem utan identifierar och undersöker mekanismer. Eftersom mekanismer verkar i ett specifikt system är de definitionsmässigt kontextuella vilket kritiska framgångsfaktorer inte är.

Metoden som använts för att uppfylla syftet är en serie fallstudier. Totalt 13 fall har studerats genom intervjuer, deltagande i möten, arbete i organisationen och skuggning.

Avhandlingen visar att det finns stora skillnader mellan hur olika organisationer uppnår långsiktigt uthålliga förbättringssystem, trots detta var det möjligt att bygga en generell modell, denna består av tre faser och tre tillstånd. Faserna är initiering överföring uthållighet. Varje fas har ett speciellt tillstånd som behöver uppnås innan nästa fas kan börja. Det första tillståndet är att de anställda ser förbättringarna som positiva för dem. Det andra tillståndet är att de anställda har förändrat sitt tankesätt och beteende. Det tredje tillståndet är ett uthålligt förbättringssystem.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. 65 p.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1552
National Category
Engineering and Technology
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-100165 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-100165 (DOI)978-91-7519-487-5 (print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-11-29, A2, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-10-30 Created: 2013-10-30 Last updated: 2015-01-19Bibliographically approved

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