Analysis of longitudinal case studies using theory of constraints in change management in manufacturers with propositions and a model of the process of ongoing improvement
Berry, Richard Henry
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The Theory of Constraints (TOC) philosophy is often credited with significant improvements in companies; a literature review reveals little evidence of results of the long-term usage of TOC. This study examined the TOC-based process of ongoing improvement in four manufacturing organizations in the United States. The study began with an overarching question, "Does the Theory of Constraints philosophy provide a process of ongoing improvement in for-profit manufacturers?" The purpose was development of a better understanding of the use of TOC as a process of ongoing improvement. Theoretical underpinnings exist in several areas: (1) system theory; (2) performance measurement; and (3) change management. Given this framework, this study investigated a method to manage change using a system’s approach guided by performance measurements. The qualitative design included interviews with personnel from four manufacturing companies, which facilitated a holistic understanding of the events that paved the way to a process of ongoing improvement. Top managers at each facility provided the strategic view of the processes and tools of TOC used. Line employees and/or supervisors provided information of the concepts in use. Published information, on-site plant tours and field notes provided details. Within and cross-case analysis provided propositions from which a model for the process of ongoing improvement was drawn. The study’s results reinforced prior research, which indicated that a system’s view, appropriate performance measures, and a culture-based process are important to successful improvement. New findings revealed that the strategic designation of a constraint provides long-term focus and internally coordinates activities.