Cultural Aspects when Implementing Lean Production and Lean Product Development – Experiences from a Swedish Perspective

Promporn Wangwacharakul, Martina Berglund, Ulrika Harlin, Per Gullander


Lean principles and methods, originating in a Japanese cultural context, have spread to a large number of companies throughout the world. The aim of this case study research is to identify and compare national cultural aspects that influence Lean Production and Lean Product Development implementation in Swedish companies. Data were collected through questionnaires, interviews and an industrial workshop with Swedish Lean practitioners. The study shows that some sub-areas in Lean, such as value definition, control systems, leadership, team development, knowledge management, and strategies, are highly dependent on contextual factors related to human, cultural and organizational aspects. These are related to the national culture and should be considered to a higher extent for successful sustainable implementation of Lean in different cultural contexts. As for implementing Lean in Sweden, national cultural characteristics, such as individualism, autonomy and supportive management style fit well with Lean thinking.


Berglund, R., 2010. Engagemang efterfrågas – Hur tre tillverkande företag söker medverkan från sina medarbetare när de inför Lean, Ph.D. thesis, Inst. för arbetsvetenskap, Göteborgs Universitet, Sweden. (In Swedish)

Fox, W. M., 1995. Sociotechnical system principles and guidelines: past and present. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 91-105.

Harlin, U., Gullander, P., Langbeck, B., Medbo, L. Wänström, C., Johansson, M. I., Finnsgård, C., Moestam-Ahlström, L., Sjögren, B. and Svenningstorp, J., 2012. Swedish Production System (SwePS) – ett kompetenslyft för fordonsindustrin inom Lean Produktion. In: proc. from VINNOVA conference on Lean och innovationsförmåga – hinder, möjligheter och kunskapsluckor, p. 10. (In Swedish)

Harlin, U., Moestam Ahlström L., Medbo L. and Svenningstorp J., 2008. A Production System Assessment Approach within Swedish Automotive Industry. In: proc. of The Swedish Production Symposium, SPS 2008, Stockholm, Sweden.

Hines, P., Holweg, M., and Rich, N., 2004. Learning to evolve: a review of contemporary lean thinking. International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Vol. 24, No. 10, pp. 994-1011.

Hofstede, G. H., Hofstede, G. J. and Minkov, M., 2010. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, New York: McGraw-Hill Professional.

Holmdahl, L., 2010. Lean product development på svenska. Lars Holmdahl. (In Swedish)

Johansson, J. and Abrahamsson, L., 2009. The good work–a Swedish trade union vision in the shadow of lean production. Applied Ergonomics, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 775-780.

Kjellberg, A., Harlin, U., Sjögren, B. and Moestam L., 2014. Design for Commitment to Production Strategy Change. In: proc. of the 4th Designs for Learning Conference, May 6-9 2014, Stockholm, Sweden.

Krafcik, J. F., 1988. Triumph of the lean production system. Sloan Management Review, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 41-52.

Kristofersson, A. and Lindeberg, C., 2006. Lean Product Development in Swedish Industry – An Exploratory Study. Master Thesis in Operations Management, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden.

Liker, J. K., and Meier, D., 2006. The Toyota Way Fieldbook. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Liker, J. K., and Morgan, J., 2011. Lean Product Development as a System: A Case Study of Body and Stamping Development at Ford. Engineering Management Journal, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 16-28.

Liker, J. K., 2004. The Toyota Way, 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Morgan, J. M. and Liker, J. K., 2006. The Toyota product development system. New York: Productivity press.

Netland, T. and Sanchez, E., 2011. Volvo Production System: Effects on global quality performance. In: proc. of The Swedish Production Symposium, SPS 2011, Lund, Sweden.

Poksinska, B., 2010. The Current State of Lean Implementation in Health Care: Literature Review, Quality Management in Health Care, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 319-329.

Preechachanchai, O. and Wangwacharakul, P., 2011. From Japan to Sweden; Lean Product Development System in Cultural Context, Master thesis, Institute of technology, Linköping University, Sweden.

Spencer-Oatey, H., 2004. Culturally speaking: managing rapport through talk across cultures. London : Continuum (publ).

Sugimori, Y., Kusunoki, K., Cho, F. and Uchikawa, S., 1977. Toyota production system and kanban system materialization of just-in-time and respect-for-human system, The International Journal of Production Research, Vol. 15, No. 6, pp. 553-564.

Trompenaars, F. and Hampden-Turner, C., 1998. Riding the waves of culture. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Womack, J. P. and Jones, D. T., 1996. Lean Thinking: Banish waste and create wealth in your organisation. New York: Rawson Associates.


Promporn Wangwacharakul (Primary Contact)
Martina Berglund
Ulrika Harlin
Per Gullander
Author Biographies

Martina Berglund, Linköping University

Division of Quality Technology and Management, Department of Management and Engineering

Ulrika Harlin, Swerea IVF, Mölndal

Department of Production System Development
Wangwacharakul, P., Berglund, M., Harlin, U., & Gullander, P. (2014). Cultural Aspects when Implementing Lean Production and Lean Product Development – Experiences from a Swedish Perspective. Quality Innovation Prosperity, 18(1), 125–140.
Copyright and license info is not available

Article Details

Lean Manufacturing Implementation through DMAIC Approach: A Case Study in the Automotive Industry

Hanane Rifqi, Abdellah Zamma, Souad Ben Souda, Mohamed Hansali
Abstract View : 266
Download :108