Awareness and implementation of process improvement strategies, like Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, and Lean Management have increased since the 1980s. In more recent history, lean management thinking has shown its significance in the manufacturing world. Kuwait, being a country in which its whole dependence is on revenues of oil exportation, has adopted manufacturing, amongst other pillars, as a strategic plan to diversify income. Although Kuwait’s manufacturing sector contributes about only 6.7% of the total GDP, the sector has significant room to improve and contribute more to the GDP. This research was designed to provide preliminary implications to improve the manufacturing sector in Kuwait.
The thesis objective is twofold. First, to benchmark the current state of lean implementation in Kuwaiti manufacturing companies, and second, to identify and rank barriers to lean implementation by exploring the cultural traits that might affect the implementation. We use an online survey and historical cultural data analysis to achieve the objectives of this research.
The results provide preliminary indications for lean implementation in the Kuwaiti manufacturing sector. First, lean manufacturing is still nascent in Kuwaiti manufacturing companies. Most companies use practices related to compliance driven process improvement strategies like Six Sigma. Second, the predominant process improvement strategy (Six Sigma) appears to be motivated by government incentives and financial rewards. The government uses ISO 9001 standards to assess manufacturing performance. Third, three main cultural traits – Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance and Future Orientation – appear to influence lean implementation.
This study is important because it provides insights towards improving the Kuwaiti manufacturing sector by identifying key driving factors to the development of Kuwait’s manufacturing industry.