Converging production models: the STS versus lean production debate revisited
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Operations & Production Management, ISSN 0144-3577, Vol. 33, no 8, 1019-1039 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Purpose - Against the background of the often politicized debate on the advantages and disadvantages of production models based on sociotechnical systems (STS) theory and lean production (LP), this paper develops a notion of a hybrid model consisting of elements of both STS and LP and tests its validity by empirical examination. Design/methodology/approach - A representative sample of manufacturing plants in Sweden was surveyed. The questionnaire measured the hybrid model in three specific constructs: STS in terms of an integrated work organizational design featuring multifunctional teams, decentralized responsibilities and integrated functions; LP in terms of adoption of lean practices such as just-in-time; and plant performance in terms of productivity, quality, delivery and speed. The obtained data were subjected to multiple regression analysis to test our convergence argument while controlling for plant size, order fulfilment practice and production process type. Findings - A relationship between the elements of STS and LP is found. Implementing elements of both production models together leads to better plant performance than implementing either one in isolation. Furthermore, plants having an integrated work organization are possibly more successful in adopting the principles of LP, which in turn leads to improved plant performance. Originality/value - In contrast to earlier research, the paper argues based on empirical findings that there is no inherent conflict between STS and LP. Rather, these production models have evolved over time and converged into a hybrid. The strong relationship between work organization design and LP practices suggests a need for a broad and parallel change effort for high performance impact.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 33, no 8, 1019-1039 p.
Lean production, Sociotechnical systems theory, Work organization, Plant performance, Hybrid, Multiple regression analysis
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-96676DOI: 10.1108/IJOPM-08-2012-0316ISI: 000325593200003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-96676DiVA: diva2:667268