Volume 13 (2014) Issue 5 Pages 255-269
Though lean production has its origin in the Toyota Production System (TPS), it has become popular across various industries. During this process, a striking situation has occurred in Sweden, particularly in its service industry. This paper aims to discuss the background and context of this phenomenon. In Sweden, work and management styles based on the tradition of socio-technical systems (STS), as embodied in Volvo's Uddevalla plant, used to be competing with lean production as a collection of practices observed in the Japanese automobile industry. However, once lean was viewed as a management approach that aims to create a smooth flow of value towards the customer, the integration of the two occurred. To illustrate this point, a case of a school is considered. It shows that reflection by autonomous teams of teachers play an important role in problem solving that accompanies the implementation of lean. Such an integrated style draws out workers' intrinsic motivation through involvement in problem solving, and thereby embodies the “respect for the people” philosophy in TPS. It is expected to be suitable particularly for the service context.