Laurent Rannaz

DBA Graduate - 2015

Thesis title

Is national culture influencing the adoption of lean tools? Lessons from Caterpillar production systems


Jean-Jacques Chanaron
Francois Desmoulins-Lebeault
Economic globalization pushes multinationals to develop themselves across the globe and limitations of management theories and tools as well as their universal validity become an interesting field of research. The purpose of this study is to evaluate, using lessons from Caterpillar, if national culture is influencing lean tools adoption in order to assess the opportunity to provide alternatives to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of a worldwide deployment. In other words, can we better understand the potential impact of national culture on the performance of a production system in order to propose adjustments to make deployment easier and more efficient? The literature review reveals abundant work related to management tools and their applicability as well as a lot of research related to production systems, lean tools and national culture. But surprisingly enough, there is very little research studying the relationship between national culture and lean tool adoption: this gap in the literature is examined in this study. Data representing the evolution of the production system score for 80 Caterpillar facilities across the world from 2006 to 2010 in 17 countries were collected and compared by country. A correlation was calculated with Hofstede’s 6 latest national cultural dimensions: Power Distance (PDI), Individualism (IDV), Masculinity (MAS), Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI), Long Term Orientation (LTO) and Indulgence Versus Restraint (IVR).Findings from the study indicate that indeed, there is a clear correlation between Hofstede’s dimensions and the evolution of CPS scores which is a good way to assess effectiveness of lean tools adoption. We can expect to get better results in countries with: • High Power Distance, Long Term Orientation • Low Individualism and Indulgence And we have not found any influence of Masculinity and Uncertainty Avoidance. It is interesting to notice that there is a positive correlation with the level of industrialization as well. When looking at each lean principle, a lot of them follow the same pattern as the total score (Chase Waste, Make Value Flow and Act Decisively) but we have also two groups of two other principles (Pull and Validate our Process as well as Actively Listen and Make it Visual) and eventually all other principles which follow a unique pattern.