Leadership Driving Successful Implementation of Continuous Improvement Programs - A Case Study Using the Path Goal Model
Abstract: Title: Leadership Driving Successful Implementation of Continuous Improvement Programs - A Case Study Using the Path Goal Model Authors: Johanna Gustafsson, Paulina Hornay Supervisors: Stein Kleppestø, Ph.D., Associate professor, Department of Business Administration, School of Economics and Management, Lund University. Peter Berling, Associate professor, Department of Industrial Management and Logistics, Lund University. Ola Ljunggren Bergeå, Consultant at C2 Management Issue of study: In the complex and ever changing business environment of today, the need for continuous improvements (CI) in organizations is widely recognized. While quality concepts such as Six Sigma and Lean come and go, the implementation of continuous improvement programs is suggested to create a more sustainable approach by integrating small improvements in the everyday work life and culture of organizations (Ahlström, 2015). C2 Management, a Stockholm-based consultancy firm specializing in continuous improvements, has observed large differences in how well their customers succeed in implementing CI programs as part of their quality management initiatives. A pre-study of data from their customers confirmed this observation. This raises questions about what drives the successful implementation of continuous improvements programs? A literature study of factors for successful implementation of CI programs resulted in a list of activities crucial to CI. When asking four case companies what activities they perform in their work with continuous improvement, to some extent they all conduct most of the activities on the list. This raises further questions about successful implementation. Perhaps it is not about what managers do, rather about how they do it? As Kaye and Anderson (1999) states that leadership by all managers is an important driver for maintaining and implementing successful CI programs, the connection between leadership and CI is interesting to investigate. This study will use the Path Goal model to investigate the potential connection between CI and leadership. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to complement the theory of continuous improvements by investigating the potential connection between CI and leadership using the Path Goal model. Methodology: A deductive approach and qualitative method was used in this study. The study was conducted in three parts. Part one was performed as a pre-study to find the purpose of this study. Analyzing CI data from 29 case companies, reviewing literature on CI to find activities for successful implementation of CI programs and conducting semi-structured interviews in four of these companies. Furthermore, a leadership model for CI was selected in order to analyze the connection between CI and leadership. In part two, a case study was conducted investigating leadership styles in the four case companies using surveys. The results from the case study formed two hypotheses. In part three these hypotheses were tested using a triangulation survey for a larger population of companies. Conclusions: The conclusions of this study indicate that leadership providing employees with motivation is a key factor affecting the success of CI program implementation. Furthermore, companies successful in CI seem to have many leadership styles present in their organizations, compared to companies less successful in CI that seem to have no distinct leadership styles. Therefore, indicating that a diverse leadership behavior is another key factor for successful CI. Additionally, this study contributes with empirical evidence supporting the Path Goal model.
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