Title: The human side of continuous improvement

Authors: Clas Berling

Addresses: Change at Work Program, Department of Design Sciences, Lund Institute of Technology, Box 118, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: This study explores why employees should want to actively participate in an improvement process and to do so within groups. Small-group activities are often considered an integral part of Continuous Improvement (CI) and there are numerous methods and tools available as well as established procedures for using them. Why then are some companies more successful in establishing a CI process than others? One important element can be that the employees are motivated and see advantages in this way of working. Most definitions of CI include the use of specific methods/tools and the participation of all employees. One important element in establishing a lasting improvement process can be that the employees are motivated to participate. The aim of this work is to find motives for employees to participate in CI-activities. In 12 companies which were establishing improvement processes, 56 groups discussed motivation and presented motivating factors. These factors were used as the basis for a questionnaire, which has been answered by 130 respondents to date. It was found that the motives were very much seen from the individual|s point of view. The most important were job security, rewards, participation and empowerment and facilitation of work. The experience of small-groups activities in achieving improvements was positive, but extended training in teamwork was requested.

Keywords: total quality management; continuous improvement; kaizen; motivation; participation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHRDM.2001.001004

International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, 2001 Vol.1 No.2/3/4, pp.183-191

Available online: 18 Aug 2003 *

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