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In pursuit of implementation patterns: the context of Lean and Six Sigma

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Abstract:

Combining Lean practices with Six Sigma has gained immense popularity in recent years. Whether a combined Lean-Six Sigma approach is the latest management fad, or leads to significant performance benefits that exceed isolated implementation is not yet apparent. Using implementation and performance data from a sample of 2511 plants, the research study attempts to uncover associative and predictive pattern of implementation between 15 Lean practices and the Six Sigma program. Our results indicate two major findings. First, implementation of any practice from a broader set of Lean practices improves the likelihood of implementing Six Sigma. Additionally, practices commonly bundled under quality management predict and distinguish the group of plants implementing Six Sigma extensively from non-implementers. Second, the regression results indicate a significant difference in the performance levels of the Six Sigma implementers group compared with the non-implementer group. These preliminary results are a first step towards separating fact from fiction.

Keywords: Empirical methods; Lean practices; Lean-Six Sigma; Six Sigma

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00207540802230504

Affiliations: Operations and Management Science Department, Curtis L. Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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