Diffusion of process improvement methods in European SMEs

McGovern, Tom, Small, Adrian and Hicks, Christian (2017) Diffusion of process improvement methods in European SMEs. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 37 (5). pp. 607-629. ISSN 0144-3577

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-11-2015-0694


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the European Regions for Innovative Productivity project that established Innovative Productivity Centres (IPCs) to assist SMEs in the North Sea Region of Europe to develop a process improvement capability. A conceptual framework explains how a process improvement methodology developed for large firms was adapted and shaped to meet the needs of SMEs. Design/methodology/approach: A comparative case study of 23 SMEs within six European countries. A protocol was developed to collect financial and operational data. This was supplemented by observations, secondary data and field notes. An established research model was used to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the process improvement interventions. Findings: The intervention context and structure of the IPCs varied by country which shaped process improvement interventions at two levels: the country and the firm. During diffusion three process improvement variants emerged that were tailored to fit the local context. Developing a process improvement capability depended upon the availability of company resources, establishing KPIs and change agent support. Originality/value: The research contributes to knowledge and theory on diffusion and institutionalization by examining how SMEs responded to institutional pressures by implementing process improvement practices in different ways. Heterogeneity of both the IPCs and the external change agents were the drivers in shaping the improvement practices.

Item Type: Article
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Ellen Cole
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2020 08:28
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 12:15
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/43951

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