A combined Institute of Work Psychology and Cass Business School study of examined the integrated use in British manufacturing of a set of lean management practices in which employee empowerment was a major component over 22 years. The researchers, Stephen Wood and Lilian de Menezes found in all 22 years that those firms that used the integrated lean approach has higher levels of productivity (measured by value-added). In addition, they found that the pioneers of the high lean approach continued to outperform even those that subsequently adopted it. These later adopters gained the performance advantages associated with the integrated approach, but their productivity growth was not sufficient to catch up with those which had adopted it earlier. This shows that the employee engagement, so central to lean production, achieves its aim of continuous improvement.
The practices included in the study are: empowerment, intensive training and development, team work, TQM, Just-in-time, integrated computer-based technology, and supply-chain partnering
The study was financed by the ESRC and will appear in:
L. de Menezes, S. Wood and G. Gelade, ‘A longitudinal study of the latent class clusters of modern management practices and their association with organizational performance in British manufacturing’, Journal of Operations Management, forthcoming