Lean viewed as a philosophy

Sanjay Bhasin*, Peter G. Burcher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to act as a meticulous conceptual paper probing the contemporary view towards lean and illustrate that, despite its discernible benefits, the implementation record suffers as the prevailing opinion fails to encapsulate that an aspiring lean enterprise shall only succeed if it views lean as a philosophy rather than another strategy. Design/methodology/approach - The paper is based on a thorough literature search concerning the success and failure of lean implementations and acts as a precursor for one of the authors utilising a combination of methodologies; namely, interviewing, survey questionnaire and participant observation in attempting to prove his PhD hypothesis. Findings - Evidently, a cocktail of factors are needed for lean success; not only is it necessary to implement most of the technical tools but an organisation's culture needs transforming too. Furthermore, the alterations need to be implemented throughout an organisation's value chain. Lean has a major strategic significance, though its implementation procedure, HRM implications, general approach to the supplier base coupled with the overall universal conviction of viewing lean as a set of tactics rather than embracing it as a philosophy advocates that this contributes to the relatively low number of successful lean initiatives. Originality/value - The paper would prove invaluable to lean practitioners through its summation of the intricacies towards lean enterprise success and academic researchers by focusing their attention towards the necessary cultural implications. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-72
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Technology Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • culture
  • lean production
  • manufacturing systems
  • operations strategy
  • philosophy
  • productive maintenance


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