Identification of Barriers Towards Change and Proposal to Institutionalize Continuous Improvement Programs in Manufacturing Operations

Alvair Silveira Torres Jr., Ana Maria Gati


A multi case research unfolded into a study in a sample of Brazilian manufacturing companies concerning their Continuous Improvement (CI) program in manufacturing operations. Stakeholders interviews and performance analyses were conducted. The study aims to analyze the existence or absence of the institutionalization of a CI culture in manufacturing operations, identify barriers and difficulties within the process and propose a model for change. As a result of the research, it was observed that despite the considerable motivation of staff, rapid gains of the company and superior results during the early phases of the CI program, time and again such results were either not upheld or faded out over time, delivering no significant mid-term or long term results, due to poor management of changes. This happened mainly as a result of lack of strategic alignment at all levels of the organization, translated in measureable activities and projects, coached and mentored by the middle and upper management throughout the implementation and maintenance of the program. The selected cases showed a declining in performance after two years of CI program start up. Learning, union and process ownership among participants by means of interactions, are necessary to absorb and incorporate changes, instead of merely "smart words" .


manufacturing, continuous improvement, change management

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