n Journal of Contemporary Management - The influence of Lean thinking on organisational structure and behaviour in the discrete manufacturing industry

Volume 13 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1815-7440



Following a Lean transformation specifically for discrete manufacturing, the organisational structure and behaviour will be profoundly affected. However, how and why this is so has remained unanswered until this research. Lean theory proposes that organisations should restructure along the value stream, however there is no certainty what this implies, and how it can be accomplished. The purpose was to determine new theory that will indicate how and why organisational structures and behaviours will change with Lean transformation. Two discrete manufacturing organisations in South Africa were purposively sampled.

A conceptual framework was utilised at the outset that indicated constructs for the research independent Lean variables and the dependent organisational structure and behaviour variables. Utilising a mixed methodology case study and quantitative multiple linear regression approach, hypotheses and propositions were developed.
The findings confirmed that a flat structure consisting of business units supporting manufacturing cells achieve effective Lean transformations for discrete manufacturing organisations. The components of an effective Lean structure were revealed, as open constructive leadership, an effective Lean champions unit, business units that support linked manufacturing cells led by cell leaders, who cultivate supportive behaviours through cross-functional teamwork and through self-directed work teams who run manufacturing cells or flow support functions.

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