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Trimming the social body

Trimming the social body PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to analyse through ethnographic fieldwork the social and cultural context and (unintended) consequences of introducing a management concept from the private sector (LEAN) into the public sector.Design/methodology/approachEthnographic fieldwork combined with reading of reports and material.FindingsThe major findings are: first, Lean is seen in a cultural context, it is argued that the persuasiveness of Lean depends on building a metaphorical connection between organizational aims and individual experiences and bodily ideals; second, Lean purports to be a win-win game and road to eliminating “waste” through worker participation, empowerment and enthusiasm. The research points to the contrary. Lean was met with scepticism and was seen by the social workers as a waste of time.Originality/valueAs demonstrated in the paper, the vast majority of research published about Lean is hortatory in nature. It is recipe books trying to convince readers of the benefits of introducing Lean. This paper, on the contrary, attempts an open ethnographic exploration of the Lean process and its social and cultural ramifications. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Organizational Ethnography Emerald Publishing

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
2046-6749
DOI
10.1108/JOE-01-2017-0005
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to analyse through ethnographic fieldwork the social and cultural context and (unintended) consequences of introducing a management concept from the private sector (LEAN) into the public sector.Design/methodology/approachEthnographic fieldwork combined with reading of reports and material.FindingsThe major findings are: first, Lean is seen in a cultural context, it is argued that the persuasiveness of Lean depends on building a metaphorical connection between organizational aims and individual experiences and bodily ideals; second, Lean purports to be a win-win game and road to eliminating “waste” through worker participation, empowerment and enthusiasm. The research points to the contrary. Lean was met with scepticism and was seen by the social workers as a waste of time.Originality/valueAs demonstrated in the paper, the vast majority of research published about Lean is hortatory in nature. It is recipe books trying to convince readers of the benefits of introducing Lean. This paper, on the contrary, attempts an open ethnographic exploration of the Lean process and its social and cultural ramifications.

Journal

Journal of Organizational EthnographyEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 10, 2017

References