The Strategic Role of Lean– A Discussion
Keywords:Lean, operations strategy, competitive dimensions, decision areas.
AbstractOperations strategy and its development have received a lot of attention in the operations
management literature. However, literature related to benefits of improvement programs, such
as lean production, is often contradictory to operations strategy principles. There is a large
body of work arguing that lean can bring substantial performance improvements, indicating
that operations strategy formalization might be unnecessary when certain operational processes
improvements are applied. However, some literature emphasize the importance of operations
strategy, stating that its formulation leads to superior competitiveness when lean techniques are
properly related to competitive dimensions and to decision areas. In this study, a comprehensive
literature review has been carried out to reveal insights on both streams of study and it is used
to conceive a framework and a research interview protocol based on that. Hence, this study
compares experts’ view of the strategic role of lean. Such a comparison is done through a range
of interviews. The results support the notion that lean can generate a strong advantage in many
competitive dimensions; even so, a formal strategy approach is still necessary to focus lean
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