Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Management Science

A Successful Lean Implementation in a Sport Equipment Manufacturer in the United States of America

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Management Science

A Successful Lean Implementation in a Sport Equipment Manufacturer in the United States of America

Article excerpt

Abstract: The Company that is studied in this research paper was acquired a few years ago. Unless the company achieves dramatic improvement in productivity and quality, the parent company will have no choice, but to relocate the plant to a lower cost region. Results show that giving workers a voice does more than boosting their ego--it seems to improve their perception of increased job security. Findings also show that supervisory support enhanced career satisfaction and effort-reward fairness. Although top management support is not related to career satisfaction and effort-reward fairness, it does enhance the perception of increased job security for the staff employees. Finally, organizational support may have enhanced employees' perception of increased job security, more effort-reward fairness and lastly job satisfaction.

Keywords: Lean production, job security, effort-reward equity, job satisfaction


The future of manufacturing in the United States and other advanced industrial countries depends on the ability to achieve dramatic improvements in productivity --output per employee--while continuously improving quality to meet rising customer expectations. In other words, survival in the competitive global economy requires skillful deployment of scarce resources and many manufacturing firms have moved towards "leaner" operations. Achieving this objective is challenging under any circumstances, but doing so in an organization whose employees and culture have been shaped by traditional work habits is doubly difficult. Overcoming resistance to change requires effective application of human relations and organizational development know-how along with skill in the technical aspects of operations management and process improvement. The track record of firms that have made this transition from a traditional to a new method of working can be instructive to organizations that seek to embrace competition with the full engagement of its employees rather than retreating from it. This study provides evidence on the employee's response to the implementation of a lean practice in a manufacturing plant.

The firm in this field study is a well-respected manufacturer that had created a pre-eminent consumer brand. Nevertheless, acquisition of the business--located in a highly unionized region of the Eastern United States--by a major multinational company put the firm's strategy into bleak perspective. That is, unless the new management team brought in by the new owners could achieve dramatic improvements in both productivity and quality, the parent company would have no choice but to shut down the plant, relocating to a lower cost region and causing the loss of over 700 jobs in an area already suffering from the effects of extensive deindustrialization.

This energized the management team with the mission to "save the plant" and demonstrate that a high seniority, unionized workforce could be taught the techniques of lean production and motivated to get behind a comprehensive program of organizational change.

The initiative to transform the organization officially began in with the kickoff of a total employee involvement meeting. Within two years, the entire team--employees and managers--received an achievement award, in recognition for their dedication to the continuous improvement through collaboration and mutual support. In less than 5 years after its initial implementation of "lean", the firm was on its way to becoming a World Class "Best Practices" Manufacturer. Among the key metrics standing behind this achievement were (1):

* Customer returns decreased by 84%

* Production cycles reduced from 21 to 5 days

* Finished goods inventory reduced by $10,000,000

* Order lead times for custom products reduced by 44%

* Employee grievances reduced by 42%

* Accidents claims down 23.5% - with a $400,000 savings in Workers Compensation

* Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste - with savings rising from $3,000,000 in 2006 to $9,300,000 in 2007

In the quest for continuous improvement, the authors of this paper were invited to conduct a study to further understand the perception of the employees. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.