The relationship between continuous improvement and rapid improvement sustainability

Wiljeana J. Glover, Jennifer A. Farris, Eileen M. Van Aken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


While rapid improvement efforts, e.g. Kaizen events, and continuous improvement efforts, i.e. kaizen, remain popular approaches to operational excellence, it is rare that organisations fully sustain change from these initiatives. The impact of both Kaizen events and kaizen may be substantially lower, if not entirely eliminated, after significant time has elapsed from initial implementation of changes. In this paper, we examine how having a continuous improvement culture can support rapid improvement sustainability via an examination of the impact of Kaizen events several months after implementation. Employing a dynamic capabilities perspective and using the institutionalisation of planned change framework, we empirically examine this relationship via a field study of 65 Kaizen events in eight manufacturing organisations. In short, we find that the extent to which work area employees exhibit peer learning, as well as awareness and responsibility both inside and outside of their work area, and the extent to which changes are accepted are significantly related to the perceived impact of Kaizen events several months after implementation. This research adds to current understanding of Kaizen events and kaizen, providing evidence to guide the use of Kaizen events and to inform areas for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4068-4086
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015


  • dynamic capabilities
  • institutionalising change
  • lean production
  • manufacturing companies
  • performance improvement sustainability
  • quality management
  • teams


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