Lean Principles, Learning, and Knowledge Work: Evidence from a Software Services Provider

Staats, Bradley, Brunner, David and Upton, David (2011) Lean Principles, Learning, and Knowledge Work: Evidence from a Software Services Provider. Journal of Operations Management, 29 (5). pp. 376-390.

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the applicability of lean production to knowledge work by investigating the implementation of a lean production system at an Indian software services firm. We first discuss specific aspects of knowledge work—task uncertainty, process invisibility, and architectural ambiguity—that call into question the relevance of lean production in this setting. Then, combining a detailed case study and empirical analysis, we find that lean software projects perform better than non-lean software projects at the company for most performance outcomes. We document the influence of the lean initiative on internal processes and examine how the techniques affect learning by improving both problem identification and problem resolution. Finally, we extend the lean production framework by highlighting the need to (1) identify problems early in the process and (2) keep problems and solutions together in time, space, and person.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Lean production; Knowledge work; Learning; Operations strategy; Software
Subject(s): Operations management
Centre: Faculty of Operations Management
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2012 19:56
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:06
URI: http://eureka.sbs.ox.ac.uk/id/eprint/2098

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