Coalition for Change - How lean is interpreted and entrenched in Norwegian industry
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Swings in the popularity of management concepts is a common phenomenon. The management concept lean can arguably be understood as a management fashion. However, in contrast to management fashion theory where a temporary popularity is characteristic, lean keep being discussed and applied in Norwegian industry. In the literature, the concept is loosely defined, and lean appears to have become adopted by many organisations in Norwegian industry. As such, we wanted to examine how different actors address lean, and to what extent the concept has become institutionalised, such that it is likely to endure and resist pressure for change. A qualitative approach, more specifically semi-structured interviews, have been conducted in order to explore how different actors and stakeholders related to Norwegian industry interpret lean, and to understand how lean has become more than just an adopted management fashion. A theoretical framework has been applied to evaluate the empirical findings. Our findings indicate that there does not exist one specific understanding or definition of lean among the different actors and stakeholders included in this study. Each actor has picked out elements from lean that they find suitable for their own reality, to serve their own interests. However, there is a commonality to have a holistic approach to lean, and to think that lean must evolve with the Norwegian model at core. Furthermore, our findings indicate that lean has started to become entrenched in Norwegian industry. This has had much to do with actors imitating other actors, the existence of a strategic infrastructure that gathers different stakeholders and has lean on the agenda, and that actors inhabiting the power of definition have not been so strict in defining lean.