Are Companies Continuously Improving their Supply Chain?


Lean enterprise, six sigma, and other productivity improvement techniques use continuous improvement. Too often, however, it appears continuous improvement is haphazardly applied or even lacking in companies, especially across the supply chain. This research identifies key continuous improvement characteristics in regards to leadership, learning, and collaborating that need to be executed more effectively. This research was conducted among a population of 174 different automotive companies in nine industries. Only 7.1% of companies with less than 100 to 249 employees used lean or six sigma. Participants using lean or six sigma struggled with extending initiatives to include suppliers (56%), as well as other areas that support building a competitive supply chain. While initial gains from these productivity improvement techniques are beneficial, the long-term impact of continuous improvement across the supply chain will offer these companies sustainable market power.

Meeting Name

27th Annual National Conference of the American Society for Engineering Management (2006: Oct. 25-28; Huntsville, AL)


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Second Department

Psychological Science

Keywords and Phrases

Collaboration; Continuous improvements; Leadership; Lean enterprise; Learning; Six Sigma; Productivity; Supply chains; Work simplification; Industry

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2006 American Society for Engineering Management, All rights reserved.

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