The Mean Lean Machine: Interpretation of Lean in a Public Sector Organisation

Studenteropgave: Kandidatspeciale og HD afgangsprojekt

  • Sara Kjærsgaard
  • Agate Ose
  • Signe Juul Rasmussen
4. semester, Kultur, kommunikation og globalisering, kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
Purpose/motivation: The motivation for this thesis lay in the interest of management strategies being utilised in public sector organisations. Lean implementation in a daycare administration was utilised as an example to investigate how context affects the interpretation of new concepts in the Danish public sector, with a focus on municipal departments.

Problem Formulation: It is argued both by the literature review and the researchers that to implement lean it is necessary to account for the context it is being utilised within. This notion is especially important within the public sector, due to its difference from lean’s ‘original’ manufacturing setting. Therefore, the three layers of lean model by Arlbjørn, Freytag, and de Haas (2011) will be applied to investigate how context affect the interpretation within the Danish public sector. Furthermore, translation theory and sociology of translation by Callon (1986) will be applied to account for the process of interpretation and introduction. Additional context related material will help crystallise the specific context of the case organisation.

Design/methodology: To answer the problem statement a single case study approach was selected, investigating a municipal daycare administration. The data was gathered through a qualitative interview and two focus groups, from different layers of the organisational hierarchy.

Findings: The research concludes that the public sector affects interpretation of new concepts, such as lean, from several perspectives. Firstly, political agendas change when passed down the hierarchy. Secondly, a sense of urgency is present within the governmental system, making organisations select management strategies based on their attractors. Lastly, public sector organisations approach changes as short-term oriented projects.

Research limitations/implications: By investigating how context affects lean interpretation, other public sector organisations can consider the findings and utilise it as an inspiration and foundation for their framework for the implementation of new initiatives and strategies. It can be transferred to similar organisations within the Danish public sector.

Originality/value: Lean implementation being problematised by context is not a new finding, whereas the reasoning as to how, has not been previously addressed. Furthermore, research has not previously investigated lean within the context of a daycare organisation, thus, this master’s thesis is adding to the pool of knowledge.
Udgivelsesdato31 maj 2018
Antal sider126
ID: 280139204