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Does a Country’s Culture Influence the Use of Lean Production Systems?

Published on
08 December 2016

With globalization, companies have been forced to expand across borders. As a result, they have to check the validity of their management theories and tools when applied to various cultural contexts. Laurent Rannaz, president of Caterpillar France, shares with us his DBA findings on the subject of deploying lean tools. The study was carried out thanks to data collected from 80 Caterpillar factories in 17 countries from 2006 to 2010.

What were your research goals and how was the study carried out?

In the current global context, my goal was to analyze the deployment of lean production tools in each country in order to understand the impact of local culture on these processes. The goal of the study was not to help companies decide in which countries they should set up shop, but rather to help them understand which management principles could help mitigate cultural differences. The study analyzed Caterpillar Production System (CPS) scores for each factory in relation to cultural factors. I used Hofstede’s six national cultural dimensions (Power Distance (PDI), Individualism (IDV), Masculinity (MAS), Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI), Long Term Orientation (LTO) and Indulgence Versus Restraint (IVR)). 

The study results indicated a clear correlation between Hofstede's dimensions and the evolution of CPS scores. The results demonstrate that countries with high PDI and LTO as well as those with low IDV and IVR can expect better adoption of lean management tools. No influence was noted in terms of MAS and UAI. In addition, the study highlights a positive correlation between industrialization levels and lean-tool adoption.

Can you share with us some concrete examples?

For example, France is average in terms of the four indexes (PDI, LTO, IDV and IVR). In Grenoble, Caterpillar France’s headquarters, we implemented new production systems with a little bit of difficulty, but we believed in the change and all ended well. In the USA, and other anglo-saxon countries, an individualistic culture orientation can make it more difficult to implement production systems. In contrast, Japan and China are able to strongly mobilize everyone to implement shared objectives, which encourages the implementation of production systems.

In Russia, China and Mexico, PDI is highest. So this study helps evaluate the various difficulties you might encounter in relation to a country’s cultural characteristics. You can evaluate each situation tool by tool and country by country to predict reactions and challenges that might arise when implementing a production system.

How did this study contribute to Caterpillar’s development?

The results of this study supported pathways to improve efficiency within the company. Pilot study findings were presented at strategy meetings and shared with the Senior Vice President in charge of CPS. An executive summary of the findings was shared with company stakeholders, including managing directors worldwide. A seminar was organized to exchange ideas with corporate lean team in charge of production system scores deployment. The study provided concrete evidence to support the implementation of potential changes in manuals for production system scores.

Read the thesis summary

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    The majority of European CFOs believe that refugees entering Europe will have a positive impact on the economy. Nearly 60 percent% of European CFOs believe that accepting migrants will help solve the looming demographic problems their nations face...

  • Published on 07 January 2016

    Baromètre du climat des affaires : l’optimisme se stabilise

    Nous rapportons dans ce document la perception du climat des affaires par les responsables financiers français et la comparons aux résultats obtenus en Europe et dans le reste du monde. Nous évaluons également les sources de risque pour l'entreprise...

  • Published on 04 January 2016

    Recherche : Produit d’origine locale, une mention qui parle au consommateur

    La mention « origine locale » apposée sur un produit alimentaire déclenche chez le consommateur des perceptions plus positives et une intention d'achat plus forte qu'un produit d'une autre région française. Trois études portant sur 632 consommateurs...

  • -	Projet CHESS – Connected Health Early Stage Researcher Support System
    Published on 08 September 2015

    Connected Health: the New Health Management Models

    Save lives and improve quality of living during and after treatment in the most cost-effective way: the promises of connected health are opening encouraging horizons for the future of healthcare systems. Connected health will contribute to creating...

  • -	Projet CHESS – Connected Health Early Stage Researcher Support System
    Published on 08 September 2015

    Santé connectée : les nouveaux modèles de management de la santé

    Sauver des vies, améliorer la qualité de vie pendant et après le traitement, le tout au meilleur prix : les promesses de la santé connectée ouvrent des horizons encourageants pour l’avenir des systèmes de santé. Elle contribuera à créer un...

  • Published on 07 September 2015

    Energy market barometer report: the development of energy prices

    The next Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) will take place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December. The Paris Climate Summit, announced as one of the biggest climate negotiations in history,...

  • Published on 16 July 2015

    Research: Unraveling the Link Between Managerial Risk-Taking and Innovation - the Mediating Role of a Risk-Taking Climate

    Innovation has become a crucial factor for companies looking to maintain their competitive advantage. Yet creating innovative ideas requires a certain level of risk-taking. While research on this subject has focused primarily on risk-taking at one...

  • Published on 03 July 2015

    Making a success of your business transfer: new tools developed for a European project

    Every year, approximately 150,000 business transfers fail in Europe threatening some 600,000 jobs. BTAR's European project, launched in early 2015, aims to target the vulnerabilities in business transfer systems and draw on best practices in order...

  • Mark Olsthoorn, professor and researcher at Grenoble Ecole de Mangement
    Published on 07 April 2015

    Barriers to Electricity Load Shift in Companies, a Survey-Based Exploration of the End-User Perspective

    Overcoming the barriers to renewable energy systems is a key challenge. In shifting from centralized fossil-fuel energy production to decentralized solar and wind energy production, countries are being forced to act on multiple fronts : flexible...

  • Mark Olsthoorn, professor and researcher at Grenoble Ecole de Mangement
    Published on 07 April 2015

    Recherche : Effacement de consommation électrique, pourquoi les industriels hésitent

    En acceptant de réduire leur consommation électrique lors de pics de demande, les industriels faciliteraient l'équilibrage des réseaux de distribution. Or, ils ont de solides arguments pour ne pas jouer la carte de la flexibilité. Une étude les...

  • Published on 07 November 2014

    Research : Digitization, Changing How We Work and Coordinate Projects

    All of us use digital tools and objects that can now be shared and combined in a variety of ways. This change has profoundly influenced the organization of work with projects being divided according to specialization and geographical location.

  • Published on 07 November 2014

    Recherche : Effets spéciaux pour le cinéma, l’art de faire collaborer 60 métiers

    Comment les spécialistes des effets spéciaux collaborent-ils sur un même film alors qu’ils appartiennent à 60 métiers différents et sont répartis dans le monde entier ? Deux chercheurs de GEM ont étudié les mécanismes de coordination qui structurent...