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Key factors in small group improvement work: an empirical study at SKF
Chalmers University of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6024-7908
2008 (English)In: International Journal of Technology Management, ISSN 0267-5730, Vol. 44, no 3-4, 324-337 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A common approach in continuous improvement programmes in manufacturing firms is that the bulk of the improvement activities is performed by small groups of shop-floor operators. The performance of these groups consequently is of great importance for the overall success of continuous improvement initiatives. Earlier research has among other things pointed out the importance of motivation, communication and leadership support for the work of these groups. However, there is still a lack of empirical studies of these factors in terms of their relative impact on performance and their inter-relationships. This paper addresses these issues based on an investigation of small improvement groups at three SKF factories in Sweden. Based on a combination of participatory studies, interviews and a survey to the leaders of the improvement groups, it was found that a key problem for improvement activities is motivation and teamwork, and that what characterises high-performing groups is their information-sharing and communication behaviours. This study also showed that other important factors to consider for this type of improvement work are goal-setting and feedback, as well as management support, both in terms of direct leadership in the improvement groups and in terms of support from other management levels, leading to a number of managerial implications.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 44, no 3-4, 324-337 p.
Keyword [en]
continuous improvement, kaizen, TPM, total productive maintenance, improvement group, motivation, teamwork, communication
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-76169DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2008.021042ISI: 000261304300003OAI: diva2:490936
QC 20120301Available from: 2012-02-06 Created: 2012-02-06 Last updated: 2012-03-01Bibliographically approved

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