Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Exploring UK lean diffusion in the period 1988 to 2010

Samuel, Donna Elizabeth 2011. Exploring UK lean diffusion in the period 1988 to 2010. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

[img] PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Download (12MB)


Lean entered management lexicon over two decades ago as a term to describe the highly successful Toyota Production System. Since then the term has evolved and is now generally used to describe a business process improvement methodology. Over time, Lean has inspired a movement. It provides the rationale for considerable work and activity that is taking place within many diverse organisations today. The purpose of this study was to explore that movement and spread of Lean over time. A review of the literature showed that research on Lean relies heavily on case studies where the unit of analysis is the organisation and that little research focused on the spread or diffusion of Lean into a population of organisations. The review also identified two bodies of work particularly well-placed to provide theoretical underpinning for the study: the work on the diffusion of innovations and, the work on the management of fashions and fads. The research was designed to contribute to knowledge in all three areas of literature. The research design and methodology included two main methods of data collection: a database of publications on Lean was developed in order to enable patterns of Lean discourse to be traced over time in-depth interviews were conducted in order to gather expert judgement on the nature of UK Lean diffusion. The findings indicate that Lean diffusion has taken place in the UK in the period under inquiry. Lean originated in manufacturing, it later diffused in the service sector and more recently into the public sector. The findings establish that explanations of Lean diffusion in the extant Lean literature, which are generally based on a rational choice perspective, represent an overly simplistic view of diffusion. Lean diffusion has occurred as a result of the interaction of multiple factors. Some factors are generic to other managerial innovations, others are specific to Lean. Some factors were more important to early Lean diffusion and are less so to later Lean diffusion (and vice-versa). In this exploratory study, the main influencing factors are brought together in a conceptual framework for Lean diffusion. As Lean penetrates into environments such as public services, the framework offers potential for further empirical testing.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
ISBN: 9781303196379
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:30

Citation Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics