Lean service operations

One common theme throughout the lean production literature is the focus on manufacturing companies. This paper begins the investigation into the contingencies to the applicability of lean production to service companies. A framework for lean production is described and translated into service companies, using an empirical base consisting of descriptions of lean production applications in the service sector, made by practitioners from service companies. The findings indicate that lean production is applicable to service operations, although there are contingencies to the application. The contingencies stem from the characteristics of services. There are also instances where lean production is perhaps more applicable to services than manufacturing, again due to the nature of services. The conclusions indicate a need to make operations more general, avoiding making clear differentiation between manufacturing and services, and instead focusing on the similarities between the two and thus the possibility to learn from each other.

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