Lean Operations / Quality Management

Description of Assignment:

This assessment should be written and structured in the form of a business report.

Select one of the following Operations Management topics (please note that you may also select a sub-topic within each of the main topics)

Lean operations

Quality management

You are expected to prepare a report based on the following objectives.

A brief description and overview of the topic selected. This section may include examples, case studies or vignettes from real life operations that are sourced from both the academic (e.g. journal papers, manuscripts) and non-academic (e.g. economist, business week etc) literatures.
An analysis of the topic regarding their contribution to the performance of operations. For example, what is the link between lean operations and firm performance? In particular, I expect to see a synthesis of empirical evidence that is available in the existing academic and practitioner literature. Please note that this evidence can be either quantitative or qualitative (I do not have a preference as long as the evidence is robust).
Strong analysis will also include contextual factors. For example, the impact of TQM programmes on performance may be generally positive but is also shown to vary according to level of organisational control (Douglas and Judge, 2001)[1], and firm size (Hendricks and Singhal, 2001)[2]. Your work could present evidence for this and a discussion of the reasons for the contingency effect.
A summary and conclusion based on your findings.

Your analysis will be based on background reading and you should provide references from academic as well as practitioner articles to justify your assumptions and statements. Your reading could possibly include but not necessarily limited to the following suggested Journals:

Journal of Operations Management
International Journal of Operations and Production Management
Journal of Supply Chain Management
Production and Operations Management
Sloan Management Review
Harvard Business Review
International Journal of Production Research

1) How do I structure my report?

I suggest the following structure:

Topic: description, analysis, and possibly contextual factors
2) How do I identify the factors responsible for performance?

You should consult the academic literature to understand the factors underlying each of the topic areas. A good place to start is a meta-analysis, for example:

Mackelprang, A. W., & Nair, A. (2010). Relationship between just-in-time manufacturing practices and performance: A meta-analytic investigation. Journal of Operations Management, 28(4), 283-302.

From here you can start to understand the direct effect of each factor on the various dimensions of operations performance (e.g. cost, quality, delivery, flexibility) and/or organisation performance (e.g. financial performance).

3) How much evidence is required?

Typically, the more evidence the better, however, I would expect a minimum of 10 academic references to be used for the selected topic.

Report Specifications

Your report should be of 2000 words (±10%). The word limits refer to the main body of text and excludes appendices, tables, references and executive summary (if you decide you need one).

Please use the APA referencing system!

[1] Douglas, T. J., & Judge, W. Q. (2001). Total quality management implementation and competitive advantage: the role of structural control and exploration. Academy of Management Journal, 44(1), 158-169

[2] Hendricks, K. B., & Singhal, V. R. (2001). Firm characteristics, total quality management, and financial performance. Journal of Operations Management,19(3), 269-285 (search on Google for: Firm characteristics, total quality management, and financial performance – CiteSeerX. Article available for free from citeseerx.ist.psu.edu)

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