approach: state-of-art review and
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Regional Institute of Management & Technology-Institute of Engineering
& Technology, Mandi Gobindgarh, India, and
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College,
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to review the literature and provide an overview of the
history, evolution and existing research on continuous improvement (CI). It reviews a large number of
research papers in this ﬁeld and presents the overview of various CI implementation practices
demonstrated by manufacturing organizations globally.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper systematically categorizes the published literature,
analyzes and reviews it methodically.
Findings – The paper reveals the important concepts, case studies and surveys in concerned with CI
methodology. The contributions of CI programmes towards improving manufacturing performance of
the organizations and CI values that underlies continuous improvement have also been highlighted.
Practical implications – The literature on classiﬁcation of CI has so far been very limited. The paper
reviews a large number of papers in this ﬁeld and presents the overview of various CI practices
demonstrated by manufacturing organizations globally. Further the future implications have also been
discussed for the smooth and effective implementation of CI practices in manufacturing organizations.
Originality/value – The paper contains a comprehensive listing of publications on the ﬁeld in
question and their classiﬁcation. It will be useful to researchers, professionals and others concerned
with this subject to understand the signiﬁcance of CI methodology.
Keywords Continuous improvement, Operations and production management,
Manufacturing operations, Management techniques
Paper type Literature review
KAIZEN is a Japanese word that has become common in many western companies; the
word indicates a process of continuous incremental improvement of the standard way of
work (Chen et al., 2000). It is translated in the west as ongoing, continuous improvement (CI)
(Malik et al., 2007). It is a compound word involving two concepts: KAI (change) and ZEN
(for the better) (Palmer, 2001). Most of the manufacturing organizations are currently
encountering a necessity to respond to rapidly changing customer needs, desires and tastes.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
The authors are thankful to the Editor in Chief and the reviewer for improving the content of the
paper. The authors are also thankful to the Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi,
for providing funds under serc category.
International Journal of Lean Six
Vol. 3 No. 2, 2012
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited