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Value-adding deployment of corporate lean programs in multinational production companies

Time: Fri 2022-02-25 10.00

Location: C1 (casesalen) , Kvarnbergagatan 12, Södertälje

Video link:

Language: English

Subject area: Industrial Economics and Management

Doctoral student: Sara Linderson , Hållbar produktionsutveckling (ML), Industrial production management

Opponent: Prof Lars Bengtsson, Högskolan i Gävle

Supervisor: Prof Monica Bellgran, Processledning och hållbar produktion, KTH Royal Institute of Technology; Assoc Prof Seyoum Eshetu Birkie, Processledning och hållbar produktion, KTH Royal Institute of Technology


Strategic improvement programs, which aim for corporate-wide lean transformation, are resource-demanding and challenging to deploy. Industrial manufacturers often develop company-specific production system (XPS) programs to coordinate the lean transformation simultaneously in multiple production sites. However, transferring lean-related knowledge in a multi-site context is complex as it is associated with tacit knowledge embedded in people. 

This thesis aims to contribute with knowledge of how multinational corporations (MNCs) can develop their deployment strategies to add more value in the business by investigating i) what constitutes deployment of an XPS program and ii) how an XPS program promotes the transfer of lean-related knowledge. The qualitative research conducted was based on three empirical case studies, which all applied an intra-firm perspective within an MNC. 

Regarding the deployment challenges, it was found to be poorly described in the literature. This thesis explores and describes the deployment of XPS programs based on empirical findings and scholarly literature. Applying program management theory and a knowledge transfer perspective contributed to holistically understanding XPS programs' deployment. It was observed that four deployment variables are the most important. These deployment variables constitute the content of an XPS (conceptual models and a toolbox of improvement tools) and implementation support (implementation structure and control practices). XPS programs are often assumed to facilitate the transfer of lean-related knowledge. This thesis expands the discourse to show how an XPS program may promote and hinder knowledge transfer in three different perspectives; when implementing larger improvement projects, rolling out global lean method standards, and incorporating new lean methods bottom-up. This research contributes to theory by describing the deployment of an XPS program in depth. A deployment model was developed that stipulates the deployment variables and their interconnection. Some of the findings may have practical applications for industrial practitioners when developing and evaluating the deployment strategies within their XPS program.