Translating Lean Production From Managerial Discourse to Organizational Practice
Sammanfattning: The majority of organizational change efforts end in failure. These failures can often be ascribed to lack of understanding of the translation processes that accompany the implementation of management concepts. Translation becomes evident when the initial ambitions of an implementation process are changed as they are communicated through the organization, often leading to unwanted results.This thesis deals with the translation of management concepts. The ambition is to contribute to the body of knowledge that is concerned with this theoretical direction through demonstrating how the currently dominating management concept Lean Production is translated as it is passed between contexts.The thesis is based on three studies of management concepts at various levels of abstraction. The first study is based on a review of the major literature on Lean Production. The second study is based on a survey among Swedish production managers on their application of management methods and concepts. The third study comprises a series of interviews within a large Swedish industrial organization, focusing on how Lean Production has been translated during the implementation process.The results show that Lean Production is far from well defined or unequivocal. There is always room for translation as the concept is passed between actors within an organization. It is therefore unreasonable to expect the concept to provide certain results. The results are determined by the way the concept is interpreted and translated within the organization that seeks to implement it. It is argued that insufficient translation competence will increase the risk of an uncontrolled and potentially ineffective translation process, leading to unexpected and undesirable results.Through combining these results with existing theories within the management field, the author presents a tentative model for analyzing the translation of management concepts all the way from the general managerial discourse to the practice that can be observed at the factory floor of a company. It is proposed that this model may be used as a conceptual framework for further studies of the translation of management concepts.
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