A practical continuous improvement implementation framework for UK manufacturing companies
McLean, Richard Scott
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Continuous Improvement initiatives continue to report high failure rates. This research initially aims to explore the reasons for implementation failure and then address the identified themes through the development of a new framework. The research is focussed on a specific sector and region in order to provide findings tailored to that audience. Several stages of research have been completed. Initially, a Systematic Literature Review identified eight main themes that most contribute to the failure of Continuous Improvement initiatives in manufacturing organisations. These eight themes were subsequently validated and ranked by influence towards initiative failure. The next phase centred around the creation of a new implementation framework. This involved firstly the evaluation of current implementation guides through a Critical Literature Review to understand both the strengths and weaknesses of each. This identified that there is not currently an implementation framework or model that fully satisfies the objectives of this research. This is the main research gap. A new conceptual framework for implementing Continuous Improvement in UK manufacturing companies was therefore developed by incorporating the strengths of current offerings as well as the findings of the previous research phases. An important element of this research is the desire to bridge the gap between academic findings and real world application. This translation of theory into practice should be the objective of any operations management research. To achieve this the conceptual framework required extensive evaluation by the intended user groups. This was achieved through a two stage Delphi study. Through this approach consensus was reached on the content and structure of the updated framework. Finally, a focus group was organised to allow a separate group of individuals, not previously involved in the research, to discuss the framework. This served to further validate the framework. Whilst being of practical use, the new framework also contributes to theory; specifically change management, motivation and organisational learning theory. As with any research, limitations exist. These have been identified throughout and where practical have been addressed to ensure robust research methods are employed. The main limitation of the research is the absence of practical application of the final framework. This was due to the absence of opportunity to do so, as well as the extended timeframe associated. A future research direction is to complete this action research or case study research in order to provide a final validation of the framework.