A Vignette Study of Middle Managers’ Responses to Continuous Improvement Initiatives by Top Management
Freek Hermkens, Sharon Dolmans, A. Georges L. Romme
To better understand why continuous improvement (CI) initiatives often fail and do not result in sustained changes, this paper investigates how management’s conceptualization of a continuous improvement program affects its implementation via middle managers. The study serves to identify the differences in outcomes of CI initiatives arising from implementing CI as an integral management versus an efficiency-improvement approach. This research draws on a vignette study (i.e. scenario experiment) with 107 middle managers working at one of the largest financial institutions in the Netherlands. The findings arising from this study suggest that CI is more likely to be adopted into the organizational culture, enhance the customer orientation among employees and improve the work atmosphere, when it is implemented as an integral management approach rather than as an efficiency-oriented program.
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