Key lessons to sustain continuous improvement: a case study of four companies
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Purpose: This paper analyses the success factors and barriers of sustainable continuous improvement practices in terms of company’s maturity level. The key factors are necessary to establish strategies that reduce the risk of improvement failure and increase the company’s maturity level. Design/methodology/approach: The paper presents a multi-case analysis of the success factors in the implementation of continuous improvement. This lead to comparison between the factors identified from the literature review and the practice of the continuous improvement programs in four large successful companies located in Bogota, Colombia applying Bessant's maturity model. Findings: The results identified five success factors and three barriers that companies should consider while implementing sustainable continuous improvement programs. The key success factors are availability of resources; management commitment; employee participation in improvement task identification; clear and realistic objectives; and, finally, existence of a leader. The major barriers are lack of alignment between organizational and continuous improvement objectives; lack of motivation in the team; and, resistance to change. The results confirm that, in spite the high maturity, it is necessary to align the organizational and continuous improvement objectives. Research limitations/implications: Since this research is a multi-case study, it is limited in terms of results generalizability for companies of different sizes, sectors and context. The academic and practical contribution of this paper is providing a better understanding of sustainable continuous improvement practices in Latin-American emerging economies. Originality/value: The present research provides an integral analysis of the key success factors, the barriers, the level of maturity and the behaviours that the companies should implement to achieve the sustainability of continuous improvement in emerging economies such as Colombia.
CitationPaipa Galeano, L. [et al.]. Key lessons to sustain continuous improvement: a case study of four companies. "Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management", Abril 2020, vol. 13, núm. 1, p. 195-211.