Lean towards learning: connecting Lean Thinking and human resource management in UK higher education

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Abstract

From its origins in the automotive industry,Lean Thinkingis increasingly being seen asa solution to problems of efficiency and quality in other industries and sectors. In recentyears attempts have been made to transferLeanprinciples and practice to the highereducation sector, with indications of mixed consequences and debate over itssuitability. This paper contributes to the debate by drawing evidence from 34interviews conducted across two UK universities that have implementedLeanin someof their activities, and we pay particular attention to the role of the human resourcefunction in facilitating its introduction. The findings suggest that there are problems inunderstanding, communicating and transferringLean Thinkingin the higher educationcontext; despite human resource systems being vital facets ofLean, human resourceprofessionals are excluded from participation; and as a consequence the depth andbreadth ofLeanapplication in the two institutions is very limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2957-2977
Number of pages21
JournalThe International Journal of Human Resource Management
Volume25
Issue number21
Early online date22 Aug 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes

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