Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to assess the current state of implementation of lean production practices in China as compared to the USA. Moreover, an institutional‐theoretic framework is developed that explores the interplay among economic, socio‐cultural and regulative forces that may shape the adoption process of lean production practices in China. Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws its conclusions from an analysis of survey data from samples of Chinese and US manufacturing executives. Lean production implementation is measured via a survey instrument, and the data are analyzed via regression analysis. Findings – The results suggest that the degree of implementation of lean production in China is equal to, if not greater than lean production implementation in the USA. While the results are fairly consistent across industries, they vary across different lean production practice bundles. In light of these findings, an institutional theory perspective is adopted to develop further insight into the potential drivers of and barriers to lean production implementation in China. It is argued that, while several economic factors function as enablers for the implementation of these practices, various social processes and cultural traits in China still hinder the full adoption of lean production. Research limitations/implications – Larger‐scale empirical studies are required for further hypothesis testing and enhanced validity. In particular, the explicit measurement of institutional forces and the statistical analysis of their effects on lean production adoption are recommended for future research. Originality/value – This is the first study to systematically compare the adoption of lean practices in China and the USA. The analyses and discussions provide a basis for further theory building and hypothesis testing research. In addition, the insights offered in this study may help firms gain a better understanding of the unique opportunities and challenges associated with adoption of lean production in China.
The International Journal of Logistics Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 16, 2011
Keywords: Lean production; Institutional theory; China; United States of America
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