The Effects of Work in an Exemplar Continuously Improving Lean Production System: A Case Study

The Effects of Work in an Exemplar Continuously Improving Lean Production System: A Case Study

Author: 
Peter Eugene Morgan
Program of study: 
D.B.A.
Abstract: 
Lean manufacturing is a collection of management practices that minimize resources used in the company’s transformation process through systematic reduction of process waste. Some lean business practices may harm workers causing muscular-skeletal disorders, mental stress, and both mental and physical fatigue, leading to reduced productivity and labor loss through burnout, absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover, thus increasing labor cost. In this exploratory qualitative case study, the researcher evaluated effects experienced in an exemplar lean production facility using exploratory structured interviews, examining worker outcomes, relationships between leaders, system design, and operation, and worker motivations for engaging in continuous improvement. The researcher interviewed 22 people working in an exemplar lean production facility. Findings included the discovery of a highly structured bureaucracy led by value-based leaders. The bureaucracy freed workers of responsibility for process outcomes, and enabled workers to enact system improvements. The researcher concluded that an enabling bureaucracy led by authentic value-based servant leaders contributed to the success of the lean production system. The researcher also concluded that servant leadership, where the growth and development of workers’ leadership skills were the leader’s focus, led to a high level of worker engagement in process improvement activity.
Dedication: 
I especially dedicate this to my wife, Carole, who is my most cherished ally in completing this degree. She deserves special recognition for her role in engaging me to think reflectively. I greatly appreciated her forbearance of my work; her patience was very generous. Without her encouragement, the challenges completing this degree would have been much greater. I also dedicate this work to the many people who helped me learn. Learning does not occur in a vacuum, and this study is not solely the result of the effort of my work, but that of instructors, peers, and friends who engaged me in thoughtful discussions.
Acknowledgements: 
My family, classmates, professors, and work associates all provided support and encouragement. Without the support and critical review from friends and associates I am certain that this work would not be the same. I want to acknowledge the work of my committee members, especially my chair, Dr. Brett Gordon. His critical thought was greatly appreciated as I began formulating the research, and his guidance kept me from going too far afield making the work both more practical, and keeping it within the realm of what I could accomplish. I am grateful for the support and friendship of Dr. David Gilbert, and Dr. William Bellows. The moral support and encouragement of Dr. Gilbert was the spur that propelled me forward, and Dr. Bellows explained a great many things about how an understanding of variation extends one’s understanding of education, work, and society. I extend my thanks the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751 for their contributions towards my education, as well as the Boeing Company for generously funding my education beginning with my baccalaureate.