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Building a high-commitment lean culture
Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
Building a lean culture
Received July 2010 Revised November 2010 Accepted December 2010
Bryant University, Smithﬁeld, Rhode Island, USA
Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster, UK, and
Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Purpose – The characteristics of successful lean operations make a committed workforce a necessity. However, there is an ongoing debate over whether lean characteristics inherently enhance or impede commitment. The purpose of this paper is to help settle the debate, as well as provide insights into the role speciﬁc work practices play. Design/methodology/approach – Based on responses from 1,391 workers at 21 lean sites, the authors examined the relationship between the degree of lean implementation and worker commitment; as well as the commitment effects of 21 lean work practices. Findings – The paper examines relationships between worker commitment and lean production, sheds light on the lean commitment debate and provides guidance for designing lean systems that complement high-commitment work practices. Practical implications – The results will be of value to readers with interests in operations, human resources and high-performance work practices, as well as the management and implementation of lean and its associated practices. Originality/value – The study described in the paper is unique in that it establishes a statistically valid relationship between lean production and worker commitment and associated work practices. Keywords Lean production, Working practices, Commitment Paper type Research paper
Introduction Lean production is based on several key principles: eliminating wasteful activities, minimizing process variability, pursuing continuous process improvement with employee involvement, devolvement of activities such as quality inspections and periodic maintenance to line workers and maintaining synchronized production ﬂow through shop ﬂoor visual signals. Lean proponents view committed workers as necessary for such duties (Adler, 1993; Wickens, 1987; Womack et al., 1990; Schonberger, 2007). Waste elimination reduces contingency resources such as standby workers and inventory. This creates a fragile system, making prompt worker responses essential to maintain production during disruptions such as part defects or machine malfunctions. Controlling production ﬂow by visual signals, such as “kanban” cards, is effective only if workers consistently respond with appropriate actions. To ensure process consistency, workers must diligently follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) in performing
Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management Vol. 22 No. 5, 2011 pp. 569-586 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1741-038X DOI 10.1108/17410381111134446
while Shah . 2009). the research sets to answer two questions. As such. Shadur et al. including just in time (JIT). or those whose inﬂuence is magniﬁed by the repetition and high intensity of lean systems. 1992. But. Lean and employee commitment Lean encompasses a wide variety of practices.JMTM 22. Hines et al. we ﬁrst examined the macro-level relationship between lean production and worker commitment. Shah and Ward. such as improvement program participation and job rotation. and accountability or empowerment which increases it. (1995) and Vidal (2007a) provide support for the importance of worker commitment in lean systems. Since studies on Japanese manufacturing practices in the 1980s mentioned the need for self-directed. Authors such as Adler (1993). 1986). followed by theories on worker commitment and its relationship to work practices. there is an absence of a consensual lean deﬁnition that may present difﬁculties for academics as well as practitioners. the literature is reviewed to identify relevant past research results. measured as affective commitment. Kochan et al. to determine whether increased lean production inherently enhances or inhibits commitment. as remarked by both Andersson et al. Browning and Heath. Pettersen. We then disaggregated lean into 21 work practices either directly associated with lean production. work teams. Gino and Pisano (2008) argue that behavioural and technical elements need equal consideration for successful process implementation. Accordingly. cellular manufacturing and supplier management in an integrated system (Shah and Ward.5 570 production tasks (Browning and Heath. Research objectives Our study is designed to investigate the role of worker commitment in a lean environment and provide guidance in identifying practices that enhance commitment. quality system. Literature To answer the research questions. Lean production characteristics and associated work practices are discussed ﬁrst. taking responsibility for checking their own work. but also to identify relevant constructs and variables for the data collection. They perform “quality at the source” inspections. (1997) and Vidal (2007b) explore human resources that promote commitment and involvement and investigation of corresponding work practices is desirable. 2007. (2004) claim lean exists at both strategic and operational levels. Continuous process improvements depend on extensive voluntary worker participation (Snell and Dean. cross-functional workers and teams (Schonberger. Wickens (1987). What role do particular lean work practices have on worker commitment? To this effect. while Anderson-Connolly et al. de Treville and Antonakis (2006) posit that such autonomy comprises two distinct facets: discretion which reduces autonomy in lean. the literature review covers key concepts and theoretical ﬁndings of lean production work practices and worker commitment. the relationship between lean and worker commitment has been studied. (2002) explore its impact on worker well-being. (2006) and Pettersen (2009). 2009. 2003). As such. MacDufﬁe (1995). What is the relationship between lean production implementation and worker commitment? RQ2. one aggregate and one speciﬁc: RQ1. Parker (2003). Whitﬁeld and Poole (1997). 2009).
Parker and Slaughter (1988) argue that the JIT emphasis on waste elimination reduces excess production workers. Similar disruptive outcomes are predicted by Durand and Hatzfeld (2003) since lean production changes customary work methods and the associated social relationships. Shah et al. suggest that workforce focused initiatives such as process improvements are a vital lean element. Narasimhan et al. Several authors cluster lean principles into social and technical dimensions (MacDufﬁe. Olivella et al. Walton and Susman..and Ward (2007). and internal variability”. Hallgren and Olhager. total productive maintenance (TPM) and human resource management. Participation in improvement programs offers workers the opportunity to creatively solve production problems and devise product and process improvements. Shah and Ward (2007) deﬁne “Lean production as an integrated socio-technical system whose main objective is to eliminate waste by concurrently reducing or minimizing supplier. There is empirical research on lean that covers individual practices (Pil and MacDufﬁe.. This differs from the narrower deﬁnition of Hopp and Spearman (2004) who deﬁne lean as production that minimizes buffering costs associated with excess lead times. de Treville and Antonakis. the negative effect on worker commitment is obvious. which in turn places emphasis on workforce commitment. Similar categorisation is found in other research (Samson and Terziovski. 2008. (2001). (2008) and Bhasin and Burcher (2006) argue lean primarily has a philosophical and practical orientation. foolproof process designs. 2006. emphasizing management support to the work force and ensured job security.. where SOPs. 2009) advocate conceptualizing lean as bundles of practices. 2008). (1990) agree. 1995. If the workers are made redundant. control and ﬂexibility needed for high-commitment jobs (Bruno and Jordan. 1995. They apply their training and knowledge to periodically maintain equipment and interpret visual signals to manage component supply. 2002. Shah et al. Supporters view the variety of lean activities as opportunities for workers to use skills and experience well beyond the needs of production. For instance. Shah and Ward. 1985. level production rates and visual signals reduce role ambiguity and its negative impact on commitment. several authors. The common lean policy of employment stability can provide job security and further strengthen worker commitment. Fullerton and McWatters (2001) and Schonberger (2007) claim that employee involvement is essential for the application of JIT and TQM. it also increases work load and intensity of work – the proportion of work time spent on production tasks by removing excess capacity. pull or JIT production. This increases worker effort and reduces control over their time. 2007. Walton. Contrary.. Building a lean culture 571 .. inventories. Shah and Ward. 1987). Similarly. Workers exercise judgment making inspections by evaluating their work and that of the prior operator. 2001. or capacity. The expanded job scope can enhance worker commitment. lean opponents contend that while systematic waste elimination may improve performance. 2000. For either view. 2003. customer. Skorstad (1994) even argues that worker resistance is more likely than creative involvement. This commitment can also be enhanced by the structured nature of a lean environment. Shah and Ward (2003) classify them into four practice bundles: total quality management (TQM). Opponents view these outcomes as incompatible with the autonomy. such as Cua et al. Lean advocates Womack et al. Cua et al. Brown et al. but several authors (MacDufﬁe. 1999. 1996. 2006). Working through 22 identiﬁed lean practices. Hallgren and Olhager. 2009). Bhasin and Burcher (2006) and de Treville and Antonakis (2006). SOPs and foolproof processes reduce role ambiguity but they also de-skill tasks and reduce worker discretion.
Pearce. They also show that role ambiguity is seen by workers as a lack of organizational support and is negatively related to affective commitment (Adkins. . such as the implementation of lean production. However. p. seen by workers as unfair (Cameron. treats them fairly and enhances their sense of personal importance and competence by appearing to value their contributions to the organization (Meyer and Allen. On commitment research.. 1989. Loi et al. 1995. The three outcomes can be characterized. However. 99) who conclude that dynamic workers are at the heart of lean production but that “workers respond only when there exists some sense of reciprocal obligation” on the part of management. Fairness is closely related to support and is positively associated with affective commitment (Folger and Konovsky. is a very sensitive measure of fairness. while normative commitment is based on a sense of obligation. 1994). Regarding work factors. the role of speciﬁc work practices in a lean system and their impact on worker commitment remains unexplored. The most widely employed commitment research model is the three-component model of Meyer et al. . Jamal. 572 This is consistent with Womack et al. p. 1993). the concept of worker commitment is discussed next. Meyer and Allen conclude that “with work experience variables. they state: [. only affective commitment is strongly linked to a willingness to go beyond the boundaries of traditional production tasks and participate in activities such as improvement projects. To this effect. 1997). an organization – accompanied by a willingness to participate in activities beyond job boundaries. and identiﬁcation with. as “I want to stay”. Continuance commitment is a decision to remain with an organization because of a lack of viable alternatives. Konovsky and Cropanzano. The three types are affective. 1994.JMTM 22. 1997. Affective commitment is an attachment to. “I need to stay” and “I ought to stay”. For further application. continuance and normative commitment. 1987. 1990. (2006). (2006) and Scott-Lad et al. we ﬁnd the strongest and most consistent correlations with affective commitment across the board”. Hence.. Meyer and Allen. leading an employee to remain with that organization (Meyer and Allen. (1990.5 While both positions on lean and worker commitment are supported by anecdotal evidence. 1982). 1995. Evidence of management trust in workers’ competence and opportunities to exercise this competence are both positive factors. see Mohamed et al. 2006). Rhodes and Steers. 2004). DeCotiis and Summers. empirical studies such as by Parker (2003) and Lee and Peccei (2008) have explored the outcomes of worker commitment in lean systems. 1997). Affective commitment has been positively associated with participation in decision making (Dunham et al. Fairness tends to be communicated through policies and practices. Worker commitment Worker commitment is linked to feelings of allegiance and loyalty toward an organization. Downsizing during organizational changes. All three commitment forms have been correlated with positive organizational outcomes such as reduced turnover and absenteeism (Mowday et al. 1981) and with management receptiveness to employee suggestions (Lee. Shore and Wayne. (1993). respectively.. 1990). 1991. Several studies show strong positive links between employee perceptions of support and affective commitment (Eisenberger et al.. Commitment also . 1993. affective commitment seems the most appropriate form for our lean response variable.] research highlights the importance of work experiences that communicate that the organization is supportive of its employees. self-inspection of work tasks and routine maintenance (Munene. 45).
by contrast.001 or less. while at “GM plants. the signiﬁcance level for each of these analyses was set at 0. and observed more effective teamwork and higher morale at Ford than GM. a random selection of 300 was made.appears to be favourably linked to worker perceptions of management competence. Cronbach’s alpha of the ten-item scale is 0. Affective commitment Cronbach’s alpha is 0. structured plant tours and management interviews.555 questionnaires distributed (54. The micro-dependent variable is affective commitment in the form of employee and organizational commitment. 2009). but does not cluster them. 1996. p. kanban pull signals. (2006).4 percent). Participants responses were indicated using a six-point scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. 100). The workplace survey instrument is designed to capture the site work practices that impact on worker conditions. mixed-model production. Building a lean culture 573 . 1990. all assemblers received questionnaires. foolproof or design for assembly systems. Reminders were distributed one week later. which in turn inﬂuence their levels of commitment. 2006. The affective commitment was measured by a seven-item survey scale of the well-established ASSET questionnaire (Cartwright and Cooper. Shah and Ward. These elements are similar to those proposed by other empirical research on lean that covers individual practices (Pil and MacDufﬁe. To allow for multiple testing.. TQM. 36 (appliances and electronics). At larger sites. The analysis revealed some non-linear work relationships. all 21 recruited sites were in Standard Industry Codes 35 (machinery). To improve linearity for multivariate analysis. Womack et al. Method The sample space is UK assemblers at sites with 60 or more assemblers with some degree of lean implementation. The macro-variable is the degree of lean implementation at site level. 2003. Analysis of variance was used to check means and conﬁdence intervals for the ﬁve levels of affective commitment responses for each work practice. As per heterogeneity sampling plan of Cook and Campbell (1979) and similar to Fullerton et al. The work practice questionnaire uses ﬁve-point Likert scales. All are “brownﬁeld” sites and include both union and non-union workplaces. and ten key lean elements: set-up reduction. inventory and waste reduction. as identiﬁed by Conti and Gill (1998) and later used in the investigation of lean implications on worker stress by Conti et al. (1990) studied shop ﬂoor work teams at general motors (GM) and Ford. At each site. supplier partnerships. 2002). we employed management and worker questionnaires. The study has both macro-and micro-dependent variables. The independent variable consists of 21 work practices. de Treville and Antonakis. Hallgren and Olhager. The measure of commitment also follows Meyer and Allen (1997) and Johnson and Cooper (2003) and further explored by Noor-Harun and Noor-Hasrul (2006). sequential levels where means did not differ signiﬁcantly were combined and the variable redeﬁned. continuous improvement programs. They concluded that “workers in the Ford plants had great conﬁdence in the operating management”. At sites having 60-300 assemblers. (2003). 37 (motor vehicles) and 38 (instruments). The implementation level of each was estimated by the manufacturing managers using a ﬁve-point scale ranging from “will not implement” to “advanced implementation”. The response was 1. TPM and SOPs. The implementation independent variables were measured by the method of Powell (1995).391 out of 2.816. we found that workers had very little conﬁdence that management knew how to manage Lean production” (Womack et al.837. Assemblers received instructions and were given questionnaires in stamped envelopes for anonymous posting to us.
583. union membership. The independent variable is the implementation level at 21 sites and not time. implementation level and elapsed time since started implementing lean are signiﬁcantly correlated (r ¼ 0. with decreasing commitment. The latter included demographic factors (age. Results and analysis Lean implementation and employee commitment The relationship between employee affective commitment and site lean implementation is non-linear. 0. Note that this was derived from a cross-sectional study. The relationship exhibits three stages. relaxing. Best ﬁt was achieved with a concave quadratic curve (Figure 1) (F ¼ 6. As such. Commitment then levels off in a middle stage.00 4. The ﬁrst stage of the response curve.50 3.05 or less.50 4.00 Lean implementation .JMTM 22. The ﬁrst is a zone of decreasing commitment in early implementation stages. However. as well as lifestyle factors (smoking and drinking. p ¼ 0. the result may illustrate the degree of implementation per se rather than how far down the implementation route the site is. Any major change can cause 40 Observed Linear Quadratic 30 Affective commitment 574 20 10 Figure 1. df ¼ 1388.50 5.5 Multiple regression using redeﬁned variables identiﬁed relationships signiﬁcant at 0. so our implementation level appears a reasonable surrogate for implementation time that incorporates the notion of varied implementation speed.00 2.004).001). Further implementation is associated with increasing affective commitment levels. Worker commitment and site lean implementation 0 2. having a hobby and the ability to socialise) and work-speciﬁc factors (ﬁrm size. The independent variables were 21 lean work practices and 13 control variables.65. p .00 3. gender and civil status). exercising. appears consistent with the negative reactions described by Fineman (2003). years of service and job type). Affective commitment was the response variable for stepwise regression.
at higher lean levels.347. increasing cycle times through parallel work ﬂows. 1995. among the sites and the large sample of workers appear to support the conclusion that at macro-level lean is neither inherently favourable nor systemically detrimental to affective commitment.75 on a ﬁve-point scale. the regression results are shown in Table I. Workers can be concerned about job losses due to higher productivity.05 or less and they are categorized as favourable or unfavourable. using job rotation to expose workers to a variety of tasks and displaying individual output where practical. indicating that unobserved site characteristics have not affected outcomes.733 (df ¼ 1390). 2006). In total. providing help in meeting production standards when needed. 14 work practices are signiﬁcant at 0. 1999. Lee and Peccei (2008) and Puvanasvaran et al. evoking both negative and positive commitment responses. as also suggested by Schouteten and Benders (2004). The range of lean implementation levels.0 (Hair et al. periodic maintenance and visual signal management – contributing to enhanced commitment. Fucini and Fucini. the upward trend of Figure 1 shows that the positive lean effects outweigh the negatives at higher implementation. the analysis produced the same signiﬁcant work practices. They are grouped in the ﬁgure as either positively or negatively associated with commitment. and higher expectations for productivity and quality levels. As implementation increases initial worker uncertainty gives way to the effects of lean characteristics. Model F is 22. It depends on the effectiveness of management in designing and operating the lean system. Lean on-line production tasks are by necessity non-discretionary. using buffers to uncouple sequential work stations. Improvement participation has the highest positive inﬂuence of the tested work practices. Increased lean implementation increases work intensiﬁcation and reduces worker autonomy. 2001. changed working relationships. 1995). Hence. there is increased worker participation in activities such as improvement projects. Examination of the normal distribution plot of model residuals indicates an excellent ﬁt to a linear model. Graham. The introduction of lean production exposes workers to new technologies.a sense of loss and uncertainty. Signiﬁcant and favourable work practices Seven work practices are unambiguously favourable in their impact. with all variance inﬂation factor values well below the cutoff of 10. and they appear to constitute a practice bundle for enhancing commitment: allowing workers to participate in improvement projects. tending to reduce affective commitment. 1988).001 and adjusted R 2 ¼ 0. These uncertainties can lead to higher stress and lower worker commitment (Shapiro. while anecdotal and ethnographic studies show that mismanaged lean systems can be unfavourable for workers (DeSantis.. There is no evidence of collinearity. 1990. quality inspections. Lean work practices are major elements of this design and operation. p .05 or less. 0. Seven control variables are signiﬁcant at 0. (2008). between 2 and 4. Conti et al. Conversely. These are discussed next. Work practices and employee commitment On the impact of each work practice on employee commitment. Parker and Slaughter. While the negative and positive outcomes coexist. Our results reveal potential for favourable lean outcomes. It appears that the lean commitment response is not deterministic. When controlling for plant site. they are important micro-level determinants of worker commitment. and can Building a lean culture 575 .. in descending order of inﬂuence as measured by standardized coefﬁcients.
018 0.004 0. Lean operates with balanced material ﬂow between sequential work stations.140 20.050 20.000 0.066 20.000 0.043 Comments on change 0.045 Table I.JMTM 22. Task support is provided by co-workers.009 20.022 0.048 0.003 0.000 0.038 Hobby 20.049 Work practices not signiﬁcant Absentee worker 20.187 Task support 0.133 Drinka 0.009 0. Signiﬁcant independent variables.028 Control variables signiﬁcant 0.05 or less Age 0. Improvement programs offer workers the opportunity to exercise off-line creativity and ingenuity.090 be hygienic and non-motivating in the terminology of Herzberg et al.093 0.048 Negative (Unfavourable) Too long hours Speed not quality Ergonomic difﬁculty Blame for defects Lack of tools Pace/intensity Flow interruptions Pace control Change autonomy Training Social difﬁcultiesa Years of service Female gendera Union membera Civil status Exercise Relax Firm size Std beta 20.004 0.057 Cycle time 0.5 Positive (Favourable) Std beta Sig 0.099 Job rotation 0. Buffer sizes at our sites ranged between two and ﬁve units. with affective commitment as dependent variable Control variables not signiﬁcant Job type 0.005 0.295 0.052 20.655 0. (1988) show that unbuffered lines with task time coefﬁcients of variation (CV) from 0.1 to 0.050 0.017 Sig 0.137 0. Such increases in control and autonomy expand job scope.025 Smokea 20.037 0.222 0. Task support has a similarly positive inﬂuence on commitment. as also reported by Ishida (1997) in the Kyushu Toyota plant featuring linked mini-assembly lines with buffers of three to ﬁve cars between segments. indicating trust in worker competence and management support in providing buffer inventories.030 20.000 0. These programs also show trust in worker competence.000 0.075 20.039 Note: aCoded (0.011 Removal frequency 0.694 0.062 0.509 576 Work practices signiﬁcant 0. Simulations by Conway et al.036 0.1) 0. .035 20.200 0.000 0.663 0.059 Parts ﬁt difﬁculties 0. fairness and competence.092 Buffer use 0.072 20.023 0. while modest buffers of ten times the CV recover 80-85 percent of capacity lost due to variability.060 0.000 0. The availability of this help is tangible evidence of management support.154 20.007 0. Buffers also reduce the pressure felt by workers when task times vary and provide pace control. expanding job scope and qualifying as “motivational” activities that enhance commitment.089 Individual output display 0. In the absence of buffers. management competence in tapping the reservoir of worker talent and support in providing project time and technical advisors. (1959).5 can reduce potential output by 10-35 percent. team members and supervisors to perform tasks and meet production and quality standards. fairness in equal participation opportunities.088 20.077 20.074 20.030 20.000 0.205 0.422 0. capacity is reduced by ﬂuctuations in task times.032 0.011 Team work 0.05 or less Improvement projects 0.
These increases in job scope and job control are favourable for affective commitment. Lean production uses levelled production rates to permit synchronized parts ﬂow. reveal inadequate support and lack of managerial competence in implementing lean production – all detrimental to affective commitment. The interdependent nature of lean material ﬂow favours group output displays. Job rotation is the performing of a variety of production tasks on different job assignments on a scheduled basis. such as repetitively lifting heavy items or positioning components difﬁcult to locate and grasp. Ergonomic difﬁculties. “rarely” or “sometimes” while 35 percent reported encountering them “often” or “very often”. Job rotation also has a positive inﬂuence on commitment. the degree of repetitiveness decreases (fewer cycles per hour) and the number and range of tasks often increase. It may also be perceived as lack of management support if increased worker cross-training could enable voluntary overtime. There is empirical support for the negative impact of overtime. As cycle time increases. and these are discussed next. If management emphasizes work speed and output more than quality. Signiﬁcant and unfavourable practices Seven work practices have signiﬁcant negative relationships with affective commitment. Workers may also feel pressured to ignore a key lean principle – stopping the production line when a defect occurs – calling into question managerial competence. with negative commitment consequences. this can be viewed as unfair since it interferes with workers’ control over personal time. This can be seen as a lack of fairness and support.The positive result of having difﬁculties in ﬁtting parts is unexpected since workers normally consider parts ﬁt problems as frustrating. in their study of commitment among transit workers. workers may be frustrated trying to meet quality standards with insufﬁcient time to do so. Moreover. argue that overtime hours was negatively related to affective commitment. However. It may be that workers view cope with poor ﬁts as a break in their repetitive routine and evidence of trust in their competence to cope – if problems are infrequent. Longer cycles make it more practical to speed up for a portion of the cycle and then rest for the remainder. Obeng and Ugboro (2003). Management emphasis on speed over quality has a negative impact on worker commitment. However. lean uses extensive visual signals to trigger actions such as replenishing empty parts containers or tracking performance. is caused by a lack of proper tools and faulty process design. and can be viewed as support in providing timely feedback and minimizing role ambiguity. the use of individual displays personalize output. engendering the same negative impact Building a lean culture 577 . Cycle time is the time required to perform a complete set (one cycle) of assigned tasks at a work station. it is most efﬁcient to increase output in the short term by operating at these same rates for additional hours with overtime. the lack of proper tools causes ergonomic difﬁculties. The increased effort and higher injury rates of ergonomic shortcomings are unfair to workers. Overtime in lean production is normally mandatory since all sequential work stations must be manned by qualiﬁed workers. with 65 percent ranked the frequency of ﬁt problems as “never”. Rotation increases the scope of production duties and can be seen as trust in the ability of workers to multi-task and support in providing task variety to prevent repetitive motion injuries. On the display of individual output. This may be the case among our sampled workers. Therefore.
the same as Marsden et al.5 578 on commitment associated with those difﬁculties. civil status is signiﬁcantly but negatively correlated with the degree of affective commitment. overtime should be voluntary. the results differ from those by Meyer and Allen (1997). Similarly. we ﬁnd female gender to be negatively related to affective commitment. Work pace has a signiﬁcant and negative inﬂuence on employee commitment. i. until consistent ﬂow was achieved (Womack et al. Flow interruptions that disrupt this rhythm can be frustrating. whose research suggests that gender and affective commitment are unrelated. and on the shop ﬂoor. Our results concur with Meyer and Allen (1997) that relations between demographic variables and affective commitment are neither strong nor consistent. Contrary. However. workers strive to achieve a steady rhythm of repetitive tasks. Moreover. Finally. suggesting that married employees feel less committed to the workplace than those that . 1990). It can also lead to quality problems. Signiﬁcant control variables In total. Third. (1993) who found “a small but signiﬁcant tendency for employed men to display higher organizational commitment than employed women do”. a feeling of being blamed for defects can be seen as unfair which in turn impedes worker commitment. aided by the cross-training of workers to expand the volunteer pool. For instance. Their explanation is that more men than women have access to commitment-enhancing jobs. process designs should emphasize eliminating ergonomic difﬁculties. The sequential ﬂow of lean production combined with “quality at the source” operator inspections makes defect location traceable to speciﬁc workers.. Lean principles emphasize identifying and eliminating defect causes – not assigning blame. task time standards should be set with pace and intensity set at “normal” levels.JMTM 22. In combination with intensity. it determines the time available for workers to complete tasks (Conti and Gill. This can create what Delbridge and Turnbull (1992) term a blame culture. Finally. Lean production emphasizes continuous material ﬂow. they also indicate tenure is negatively related to commitment – the same as our result. Work pace is the speed of performing tasks. as also suggested by Shadur et al. Obeng and Ugboro (2003) report that age is not signiﬁcantly related to affective commitment. Allen and Meyer (1993) ﬁnd that affective commitment increases signiﬁcantly with employee age which is consistent with our result. Second. frequent interruptions discouraged workers and harmed morale. Defects are seldom caused by operator error. both which have a negative inﬂuence on commitment. (1995). providing adequate tools and minimizing ﬂow interruptions. 13 control variables were included in the regression model and seven show signiﬁcant relationships with commitment (Table I). First. disruptions of work ﬂow also have a negative impact on worker commitment. 1982) and with the work pace subordinated to quality standards. Therefore. raising managerial competence issues. supervisory training and disciplinary policies must emphasize “blame free” defect investigations. These unfavourable practices cluster into four managerial action categories to enable greater worker commitment.e. The frustration of interruptions raises questions of managerial support and competence. However. 1998). the proportion of working time spent performing tasks. In the early days of the Toyota Production System. as deﬁned by industrial engineering practice (Panico. Such inadequate times can be viewed as unfair and evidence of a lack of support.
Building a lean culture 579 . for instance through standard process control. responsible autonomy and work facilitation is moderated by excessive leanness – an absence of the lean resources needed by workers to perform effectively. However. exercise responsible autonomy and beneﬁt from work facilitation. they develop a job characteristics model (JCM) linking intrinsic worker motivation to outcomes of work performance. they may also intensify work and reduce worker control and autonomy. Since relatively. This is the systematic removal of barriers to workers achieving their objectives. managing visual control signals. continuance commitment may be positively correlated with civil status. with married workers feeling a greater need to ensure an income. responsibility and knowledge of work. Meanwhile. but that many do drink. the four states are a measure of intrinsic motivation. A second modiﬁcation is the addition of work facilitation. SOP. While successful lean systems can provide competitive advantage. process change autonomy. 2006). Collectively. design for assembly and foolproof design. there are the offsetting beneﬁts of increased responsible autonomy (de Treville and Antonakis. Union membership is also negatively related to commitment. 2006). This latter state reﬂects the role of lean practices such as job rotation. absenteeism and job satisfaction. few workers are problematic drinkers – Moore et al. performing routine maintenance and participating in problem solving and improvement programs. mediating relationships between job characteristics and work performance outcomes. the signiﬁcant relationship between drinking alcohol and affective commitment is noteworthy. since workers faced with this difﬁculty are less likely to volunteer for commitment enhancing activities such as improvement projects. Choice autonomy corresponds to the JCM deﬁned freedom over job procedures and timing. To reﬂect lean. this helps explain the control variable’s signiﬁcance. how do we reconcile our results with such improved performance? Why do not reduced autonomy and control and increased intensiﬁcation have stronger negative inﬂuences on affective commitment? Why is not work pace control. the lean favourable impact on skill variety. In their study of whether lean job design can be intrinsically motivating. (2000) argue that there is a threshold effect. The ﬁnal two signiﬁcant control variables are in line with expectations. or the ability to comment on changes signiﬁcantly associated with affective commitment? In Figure 1. absenteeism and job satisfaction – outcomes associated with affective commitment. Loss of choice autonomy is offset by increased responsible autonomy in lean production (de Treville and Antonakis. This raises several questions: if commitment is essential to lean production success and its characteristics inherently inhibit commitment. Moore et al. SOPs and training in developing worker competence. This is consistent with ﬁndings by both Cohen (1993) and Lee (2004). why does not commitment exhibit a negative slope as implementation increases? de Treville and Antonakis (2006) help to answer these questions. Difﬁculty in socializing with fellow workers is negatively associated with commitment levels. and self-efﬁcacy or experienced job competence. While lean sharply reduces choice autonomy. develop job skills. core JCM job characteristic of autonomy were divided into choice and responsible autonomy. where well-being and attitude towards work only decline at high levels of alcohol consumption. This explains the relatively benign inﬂuence of reduced choice autonomy on our commitment results. The model incorporates four psychological states experienced by workers: meaningfulness. Workers exercise responsible autonomy by making quality inspections. (2000) state a ﬁgure of 2.6 percent in their study. Note that contrary.are single or unmarried with partners.
However. the regression results show that emphasis of speed over quality and the level of work pace and intensity are negatively associated with affective commitment. Having to work long hours and feeling being blamed for defects interfere with exercising responsible autonomy and developing self-efﬁcacy. depending on the effectiveness of management in designing and operating the lean technical and human resource policies and practices. the positive and negative impacts of particular work practices on worker commitment are discussed next. 2006) and studies on high-involvement practices (Adler. particularly in sequentially assembled products with functionally interacting parts. Both our macro-implementation analysis and our micro-regression work practice results support the conclusion that affective commitment is neither inherently supported by lean production nor inherently impeded by it. The potential for low choice autonomy jobs to be intrinsically motivating is an important contribution to the job design theory proposed by Conti and Warner (2003). intensity drivers are the policies for setting time standards and the associated manning levels since they affect workers continuously throughout the workday. Eliminating these activities results in fewer intermittent “informal” breaks for the workers. Parker (2003) and Lee and Peccei (2008) argue managers should allow for employee autonomy and functional ﬂexibility while control for task discretion through . Our results show seven work practices favourably inﬂuence commitment while seven other have a negative inﬂuence. increased work pace has potential for causing excessive leanness. The former primarily provide workers with autonomy and the perception of control. where lean also commonly is employed (Walton and Susman. Not surprisingly. Management can avoid contributing to excessive leanness by basing time standards and workforce manning on normal work pace levels and reasonable intensity allowances. 1995. 2002. 1982). and production interruptions from machine breakdowns or parts shortages. 1995. Increased work cycle intensity reduces the number of workers for a given output. Other work practices can contribute to excessive leanness. Since time standard is a function of pace and intensity.. Rather. 2007a). Ergonomic difﬁculties. 1993. allowing for fatigue. This conditional nature of the commitment response also helps to explain the divergence of lean outcomes reported in various studies. Lean emphasizes eliminating wasteful activities such as worker delays waiting for maintenance men. A time standard is determined by the time needed to perform a task. Vidal. intensifying their workday. The presented results provide guidance for managers when implementing or already employing lean production.. MacDufﬁe. For further managerial insight. Anderson-Connolly et al. de Treville and Antonakis (2006). Bruno and Jordan. Following the research questions. 2002). Industrial engineering practice bases the performance time on a normal work pace (Panico. set up men or inspectors.5 580 Lean intensiﬁcation has two causes: waste elimination activities and setting production time standards. overall lean implementation impact on employee commitment as well as the role of particular work practices was investigated. Therefore. This further supports the results of other lean studies (Shadur et al. lack of tools and ﬂow interruptions all negatively impact work facilitation and self-efﬁcacy.JMTM 22. They show that non-discretionary job designs are necessary for high reliability. enhancing commitment appears to be conditional. 1987. Conclusions This study set out to explore the relationship between lean production and worker commitment. Bhasin and Burcher.
Process design should eliminate ergonomic difﬁculties. Allen. Building a lean culture 581 . respectively. 2007). supporting the notion of MacDufﬁe (1995). Combining items into scales would increase reliability but at the expense of not being able to assess the broad range of commitment implications in a survey of feasible length. such as inappropriate ergonomics or tools. “Previous work experience and organizational socialization”. Harvard Business Review. and subordinated to quality standards. Our worker returns represent a large sample. (1993). Academy of Management Journal. This was addressed by heterogeneity sampling. “Time and motion study regained”.fool-prooﬁng techniques when employing lean. as deﬁned by industrial engineering practice. The social element covers blame and long working hours. Vol. This suggests that right attitude (e. Managing this dual pressure of controlling job discretion for improved quality and allowing job discretion for improved worker commitment. Vol. Adler. towards participating in improvement projects) is a key employee characteristic. unfavourable practices cluster into social and technical elements. N. and that managers must ensure that particular attention and emphasis is placed on it for worker selection and job task allocation. The same applies to training. 1. 49-61. 2007). (1995). provide adequate tools and minimize ﬂow interruptions. Vol. Shah and Ward (2003. and Meyer. such as team work and ﬁlling in for absent workers. Each worker rotates through on-line tasks with limited discretion through design for manufacturing and poka yoke techniques to off-line improvement tasks focused on particular areas (e. Also. supervisory training and disciplinary policies must emphasize blame-free defect investigations. Our sample of manufacturers is opportunistic and the sites are likely biased toward enlightened work practices.g. This may limit the applicability of our results. C. Such dual system provides the quality beneﬁts of low task control with the social and individual beneﬁts of greater task control. Journal of Business Research. overtime should be voluntary and supported by multi-skilled workers to ensure sufﬁcient candidates. 38. 71 No. Van Hootegem et al. 26 No. Meanwhile. quality and safety). (1993). have limited inﬂuence on employee commitment. 1. P. The identiﬁed non-signiﬁcant work practices indicate practices with a social element. as supported by Delbridge and Turnbull (1992) and Obeng and Ugboro (2003). J. recruiting sites that employ a variety of processes and practices. The results suggest that managers can take action to enable greater worker commitment. Importantly. 839-62. pp.g. Pace and intensity task time standards should be set at normal levels. (2004) propose a system that combines the beneﬁts of non-discretionary work tasks on the production line with improvement projects conducted by workers temporarily taken off from the line. but the site sample size may appear moderate. with the additional advantage of capturing worker improvement insights (Angelis and Fernandes. sites are all in the UK. Bhasin and Burcher (2006) and Hallgren and Olhager (2009). Finally. pp. Studying the effects of work practices and lean implementation required a trade-off between lower measurement reliability for increased scope. 97-198. Technical elements that negatively inﬂuence commitment increase work demand through poor design. pp. “Organizational commitment”. References Adkins.
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American Psychological Association. Rhee. and a regular Academic Visitor to the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge. 21-42. Schonfeld. “Methodological issues in occupational stress research”. (1995). (Eds).emeraldinsight. Colin Gill is a University Senior Lecturer in Management Studies in the Manufacturing and Management Division. Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at the University of Cambridge.com/reprints . 586 To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. I. Department of Engineering. in Sauter. Jannis Angelis is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: jannis@angelis.. “The darker side of lean”. Organizational Risk Factors for Job Stress.5 Mehri. and Murphy. and Xia. S. (2006). Academy of Management Perspectives. 20 No. Vol.com Or visit our web site for further details: www. Bryant University. and an Afﬁliated Researcher at CTPID. L.se Robert Conti is a Professor of Operations Management at the School of Management. 2. Washington. a UK governmental think tank. F. About the authors Jannis Angelis is an Assistant Professor of Operations Management at Warwick Business School. University of Cambridge. J. England. pp.JMTM 22. He is former President of the British Academy of Management and is Chair of the Sunningdale Institute. DC. where he teaches operations strategy and operations management. Cary Cooper is Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management School and Pro Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University. D.
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