Lean in the Public Sector Possibilities and Limitations
Sammanfattning: The demands on efficiency and quality in the public sector have increased over the past few years, which have raised the need for strategies on how the public sector can be improved (Denhardt and Denhardt, 2000). Consequently, the concept of Lean production, or just Lean, have become increasingly spread, especially in health care, but also in government agencies, police, military and social services. Lean production is an integrated operational and socio-technical system with the aim of creating value and reducing waste in operations. Some research has been conducted on Lean in the public sector, but it has been too focused on the a few operational tools and results of these, and there is lack of a comprehensive critical review of Lean from a holistic perspective.The aim of this thesis is to increase understanding of how Lean production is used in different contexts. The thesis particularly focuses on the public sector, and investigates the possibilities and limitations of Lean production in this context. A total of seven organizations have been studied, including two manufacturing companies, three care units and two local businesses. In particular, qualitative methods have been used, along with some quantitative.The thesis shows several possibilities and limitations of Lean in public sector. One possibility is the improved flow orientation that reduces the lead time and efficiency in back office processes. Moreover, the new roles and responsibilities can lead to improved job characteristics for public sector employees. One limitation is that Lean is more commonly used to improve the technical quality than the functional, which means that the focus has been placed on improving the instrumental performance of the service, rather than how the service is provided. There is also often a focus on efficiency in the back office rather than the front office processes. This means that Lean initiatives may become too focused on internal efficiency and thereby miss important aspects of user perceived quality.
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