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Meaning, perceptions and use of lean - New Zealand perspective

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 09:47 authored by Thornton, K, Nath, N, Hu, Y, Jing JiaJing Jia

Purpose: This study aims to explore how lean and lean dimensions are perceived by senior managers in New Zealand (NZ). The authors use Searcy’s (2004) framework to establish how lean performance dimensions differ in importance in terms of sector, size and users of lean, thus, revealing the motivations and benefits of lean from the view of lean organisations.

Design/methodology/approach: Data were primarily sourced using an online survey tool. A thematic approach was used to establish an understanding of lean by NZ senior managers. An analytical hierarchy process model was used to determine if the relative importance of the lean performance dimensions is perceived differently between manufacturing and service organisations, large firms and small- and medium-sized enterprises and adopters and non-adopters of lean. The results are informed by Searcy’s (2004) framework.

Findings: The study reveals efficiency, elimination of waste, cost reduction and meeting customer demands based on secondary sources, to be the current prevalent dimensions of lean in NZ. Managers are yet to realise the importance of customer value and product quality, and the former is at the heart of the successful diffusion of lean dimensions. Customer value is beyond satisfying customer demands and needs; the focus is on how the authors can understand the customers.

Research limitations/implications: The sample size limits the generalisability of the results. Practical implications – The study suggests that practitioners, including managers, need to incorporate customer demand and satisfaction into their lean performance dimensions to improve effectiveness. This group of actors should be instrumental in taking the lean philosophy, tools and techniques to NZ firms by hosting in-house training and seminars at regional and national levels. Furthermore, academics should incorporate lean studies as a programme/course in their respective tertiary institutions so that graduates can take this phenomenon to their workplace.

Originality/value: This study contributes to the understanding of lean within a NZ business context and provides evidence that NZ corporate managers need to incorporate customer value and product quality aspects when adopting lean.


Publication title

Pacific Accounting Review












Emerald Publishing Limited

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in commerce, management, tourism and services

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