The Challenges of Lean Transformation and Implementation in the Manufacturing Sector

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10 Scopus citations


In this study we explored the challenges involved in Lean Transformation and implementation in the manufacturing sector. Using survey data from 50 North American manufacturing organizations, we examined the challenges involved in implementing and sustaining Lean Manufacturing (LM) principles and practices in production processes. The fuzzy analytic hierarchy process (FAHP) and the fuzzy analytic network process (FANP) were used to rank the considerable challenges observed in these organizations. We concluded that the need for a change in organizational culture was the major barrier to Lean implementation. It is challenging to sustain Lean without a culture shift and a clear direction set by the organization’s leadership team. The originality of the paper relates to prioritizing the cultural aspects of organizations as a major barrier to LM implementation. Other challenges encountered during Lean implementation in the manufacturing industries were related to management support, technical knowledge, and employee resistance to change. Early identification of these challenges enables companies to question their capabilities before implementing the Lean philosophy. In this study we used results obtained from 50 manufacturing companies in North America, representing a subset of manufacturing organizations. As a result, it must be interpreted based on the data acquisition method and the study’s sample size.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6287
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Lean Manufacturing
  • Lean implementation
  • Lean training
  • company culture
  • leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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