Six Sigma

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The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at TQM 19,1 6 Dynamics of organizational learning and continuous improvement in six sigma implementation Taina Savolainen Department of Business and Economics, University of Joensuu, Joensuu, Finland, and Arto Haikonen Genworth Financial, Helsinki, Finland Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the dynamics of organizational learning and continuous improvement (CI) in the context six sigma implementation in business organizations operating in multicultural environments. Design/methodology/approach – A specific research question is: does learning mechanisms and continuous improvement practices support…show more content…
It is not well known, however, how organizational learning and continuous improvement work dynamically and mutually. For studying the mutual dynamics of these two widely known concepts in the organization theory and quality management fields, the six sigma approach – an improvement methodology for business processes – forms a fertile context for examination. There are not yet too many scientifically sound reports and case studies of six sigma implementation in real-life. In the dynamic developments of pursuing organizational effectiveness, the six sigma approach is currently gaining more and more ground in high-performance organizations aiming at the highest level of quality (six sigma by definition). Managers allocate resources to the improvement activities they regard as crucial for increasing organizational performance. Six sigma is an improvement method that aims to increase business performance through solid and accurate business focus. The applying of six sigma is progressing in Finnish business life, and this paper reports on a preliminary case study in three companies. Conclusions are made and on how learning and continuous improvement practices support each other, and on the type of learning in the six sigma implementation The findings show that in a procedural implementation of six sigma learning mechanisms and continuous improvement practices are intertwined creating mainly a single-loop type of learning. The type reminds a technical

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