Kaizen events and organizational performance: A field study

Toni L. Doolen, Eileen M. Van Aken, Jennifer A. Farris, June M. Worley, Jeremy Huwe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to describe the application of an assessment methodology to empirically measure and evaluate the impact of kaizen events on organizational performance, including human resource outcomes. Design/methodology/approach - A field study of two kaizen events held within a single organization utilizing both quantitative (survey) and qualitative (interviews and organizational documents) data was conducted. Sustainability of outcomes was also studied. Findings - This study empirically illustrates that, even within a single organization, kaizen events may have varied success. Management support was found to be related to human resource outcomes. Positive attitudes at the conclusion of a successful event, however, did not automatically translate to sustained improvements. Additionally, the kaizen event team with a more limited scope was better able to meet targeted business objectives. Originality/value - The methodology described can assess the impact of kaizen events on business performance and human resource outcomes; the latter has largely been ignored in the kaizen events scholarly literature. This study demonstrates that initial success in business outcomes and human resource outcomes are not necessarily correlated and that success may vary over time. Leaders need to pay close attention to follow-up mechanisms to ensure sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-658
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Productivity and Performance Management
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2008


  • Continuous improvement
  • Lean production
  • Performance management


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