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Lean manufacturing and employee working conditions in organisations operating in Nigeria: the managers’ and supervisors’ perspective

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

This research aims to understand the impact of lean manufacturing (Lean) on employee working conditions (EWC) in organisations operating in Nigeria, mainly from the managers’ and supervisors’ perspective. An exploratory study, the research adopts a case study research strategy to address the research aim. The case study organisations are a Complex Product Manufacturer, and a Power System Manufacturer, both located in Nigeria. The findings from this study provide insights into the Lean practices adopted by organisations operating in Nigeria, such as 5S, Total Preventive Maintenance (TPM), Just-in-Time (JIT) and Continuous Improvement (CI).

Having determined the Lean practices adopted by Lean organisations operating in Nigeria, the research assesses the impact of these practices on EWC. Firstly, by the review of the literature to capture the possible impacts of Lean on EWC from a wider perspective, which led to the development of a conceptual model of the impact of Lean on EWC. The development of the conceptual model is followed by an assessment of the impact of Lean on EWC through the case studies, an area not hitherto considered by research into Lean in Nigeria. The findings of this research established that Lean has had a predominately positive rather than negative impact on EWC. The implementation of Lean has led to improved physical EWC, in terms of housekeeping, layout, and ergonomics. Furthermore, physiological EWC such as reduction in stress, increased autonomy, motivation, and teamwork, better interpersonal relationship, and lastly, increase in the presences and usage of polyvalence (multi-skilled workforce). They were also the physical and physiological impacts of better management of workload, and improvement in health and safety. More so, the negative features of Lean, although recorded at the initial stages of Lean implementation in the case organisations are physiological. They are: increase in stress, a greater sense of apprehension amongst employees. Physical and physiological negative features whereby employees experienced an increase in workload, work being tedious and employees working in pain, and an accident.

Nevertheless, several recommendations were developed based on the research findings. For instance, the case study organisation needs to integrate job rotation and multifunctional working into their practice of Lean, to prevent the exposure of employees to monotonous jobs, including the chance of repetitive strain injuries (RSI) occurring. For other organisations working to implement Lean, the results of this study could assist them to learn best practices in the implementation of Lean and to understand its possible strength and weakness. Moreover, other contributions made by this research, are that, for Non-Lean manufacturers and intending Lean manufacturers, especially those in Nigeria in which this research observes a predominant unfavourable EWC, the findings of this research suggest that Lean leads to an improvement in EWC and provides an opportunity to produce at a lower cost. The improvement in EWC, while also producing at lower cost found in this research could serve as an incentive for these organisations to adopt Lean. Furthermore, this research other than being the first empirical study to identify the Lean practices adopted by organisations operating in Nigeria and to investigate their impact on EWC develops three models. The first was the conceptual model following the review of the literature, which captures the possible impact of Lean on EWC. The model was subsequently evaluated against the findings from the case studies, leading to the development of two more models. First, a model on Lean and its impact on EWC, second, a model of the Negative Features of EWC in organisations following the implementation of Lean. These models developed in this research can be used in the assessment of Lean and its impact on EWC by organisations and could serve as a reference for further research into Lean and EWC.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Barbara Savage (Supervisor)
  • Emma Brown (Supervisor)
Award dateSep 2017
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ID: 11068477