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Meaning, perceptions and use of lean - New Zealand perspective


Thornton, K and Nath, N and Hu, Y and Jia, J, Meaning, perceptions and use of lean - New Zealand perspective, Pacific Accounting Review, 31, (4) pp. 711-730. ISSN 0114-0582 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited

DOI: doi:10.1108/PAR-11-2017-0091


Purpose: This study aims to explore how lean and lean dimensions are perceived by senior managers in New Zealand (NZ). The authors use Searcy’s (2004) framework to establish how lean performance dimensions differ in importance in terms of sector, size and users of lean, thus, revealing the motivations and benefits of lean from the view of lean organisations.

Design/methodology/approach: Data were primarily sourced using an online survey tool. A thematic approach was used to establish an understanding of lean by NZ senior managers. An analytical hierarchy process model was used to determine if the relative importance of the lean performance dimensions is perceived differently between manufacturing and service organisations, large firms and small- and medium-sized enterprises and adopters and non-adopters of lean. The results are informed by Searcy’s (2004) framework.

Findings: The study reveals efficiency, elimination of waste, cost reduction and meeting customer demands based on secondary sources, to be the current prevalent dimensions of lean in NZ. Managers are yet to realise the importance of customer value and product quality, and the former is at the heart of the successful diffusion of lean dimensions. Customer value is beyond satisfying customer demands and needs; the focus is on how the authors can understand the customers.

Research limitations/implications: The sample size limits the generalisability of the results. Practical implications – The study suggests that practitioners, including managers, need to incorporate customer demand and satisfaction into their lean performance dimensions to improve effectiveness. This group of actors should be instrumental in taking the lean philosophy, tools and techniques to NZ firms by hosting in-house training and seminars at regional and national levels. Furthermore, academics should incorporate lean studies as a programme/course in their respective tertiary institutions so that graduates can take this phenomenon to their workplace.

Originality/value: This study contributes to the understanding of lean within a NZ business context and provides evidence that NZ corporate managers need to incorporate customer value and product quality aspects when adopting lean.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Lean, AHP, lean performance dimensions
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Strategy, management and organisational behaviour
Research Field:Organisation and management theory
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in commerce, management, tourism and services
UTAS Author:Jia, J (Dr Jing Jia)
ID Code:136781
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:TSBE
Deposited On:2020-01-17
Last Modified:2020-05-27

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