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Continuous improvement and the mini-company concept

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The key issue of continuous improvement (CI) seems to be the problem of combining extensive employee involvement with market orientation and continuation of CI. In this article we review some existing organisational designs for CI on these three essential characteristics of CI. As an alternative to the shortcomings of current organisational designs for CI we present the mini-company concept, related to the sociotechnical concept of the self-managing team. The mini-company concept incorporates the three key issues: it has a self-propelling capacity for CI, involving everyone on the shop floor. A constant and market-oriented source for improvement is found in the clients and suppliers of the mini-company. Results of an in-depth case-study are presented, showing some strong effects of the mini-company concept.
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Keywords: Case Studies; Continuous Improvement; Kaizen; Organizational Design; Teamwork

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 1999

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