Study of the Use of Employee Perception to Assess Lean Adoption Based on the Toyota Production System and Toyota Way Model in the Chinese Automobile Industry
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Industrial and Systems Engineering
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In the 1980’s, the world began to notice the Toyota Motor Corporation as a leader in the automotive manufacturing industry. The Toyota Production System has been researched and emulated for its business success in cost reduction and efficiency improvement over the past 30 years. However, few companies feel they have achieved significant results by adopting Lean production which describes a systematic method for waste minimization and cost reduction derived from the Toyota Production System. Failure of the inability to replicate Toyota’s supportive culture has been listed as a cause for the failure to implement Lean. Many studies on assessing Lean implementation have been conducted from external points of view, only focusing on visible indicators, which may overlook the employee perception on the progress of Lean adoption. This dissertation examines how the Toyota Way culture concepts, and the difference of perception between frontline and non-frontline employees on Lean, influence the operational performance in the Chinese auto manufacturing industry. A survey instrument based on the Toyota Production System and Toyota Way culture was developed to assess Lean implementation by capturing employee perception. A survey development process and a pilot study were used to modify, finalize, and translate the survey. A full study was performed on a sample of 442 participants with Lean production experience at six auto manufacturing companies in China. The reliability and validity of the Toyota Production System and Toyota Way model-based survey were examined by reliability analysis and Confirmatory Factor Analysis. Structural Equation Modeling was used to investigate the relationships among Lean implementation, culture, and operational performance. A multigroup analysis was used to compare the influences of supportive culture within a Lean production system between organizations the United States and China. Finally, a comparison of the perception of Lean between management and frontline employees in six plants was conducted. According to the results, we may conjecture that the larger the difference of perception between management and frontline employees on culture, the worse the plant achieves performance objectives.