The barriers to realising sustainable process improvement: A root cause analysis of paradigms for manufacturing systems improvement

Ben J Hicks, Jason Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


To become world-class, manufacturing organisations employ an array of tools and methods to realise process improvement. However, many of these fail to meet expectations and/or bring about new less well understood problems. Hence, prior to developing further tools and methods it is first necessary to understand the reasons why such initiatives fail. This paper seeks to elicit the root causes of failed implementations and consider how these may be overcome. The paper begins by reviewing various paradigms for manufacturing systems improvement including design/redesign-, maintenance-, operator-, process-, product- and quality-led initiatives. In addition to examining the knowledge requirements of these approaches, the barriers to realising improvement are examined through consideration and review of literature from the fields of manufacturing, management and information systems. These fields are selected because of the considerable work that deals with process improvement, change management, information systems implementation and production systems. The review reveals the importance of fundamental understanding and highlights the lack of current methods for generating such understanding. To address this issue, the concept of machine-material interaction is introduced and a set of requirements for a supportive methodology to generate the fundamental understanding necessary to realise sustainable process improvement is developed.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)585-602
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Computer Integrated Manufacturing
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2010


  • knowledge requirements, tools and methods, manufacturing improvement, generating understanding

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