Rethinking lean supplier development as a learning system
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionInternational Journal of Operations & Production Management. 2020, . 10.1108/IJOPM-06-2019-0486
Purpose This paper investigates developing a learning-to-learn capability as a critical success factor for sustainable lean transformation. Design/methodology/approach This research design is guided by our research question: how can suppliers learn to learn as part of a buyer-led collaborative lean transformation? The authors adopt action learning research to generate actionable knowledge from a lean supplier development initiative over a three-year period. Findings Drawing on emergent insights from the initiative, the authors find that developing a learning-to-learn capability is a core and critical success factor for lean transformation. The authors also find that network action learning has a significant enabling role in buyer-led collaborative lean transformations. Originality/value The authors contribute to lean theory and practice by making the distinction between learning about and implementing lean best practices and adopting a learning-to-learn perspective to build organisational capabilities, consistent with lean thinking and practice. Further, the authors contribute to methodology, adopting action learning research to explore learning-to-learn as a critical success factor for sustainable lean transformation.