Advanced Search
Journal search
Journal cover: International Journal of Lean Six Sigma

International Journal of Lean Six Sigma

ISSN: 2040-4166

Online from: 2010

Subject Area: Managing Quality

Content: Latest Issue | icon: RSS Latest Issue RSS | Previous Issues


Previous article.Icon: Print.Table of Contents.Next article.Icon: .

Four decades of lean: a systematic literature review

Document Information:
Title:Four decades of lean: a systematic literature review
Author(s):Kyle B. Stone, (College of Business and Leadership, Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas, USA)
Citation:Kyle B. Stone, (2012) "Four decades of lean: a systematic literature review", International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, Vol. 3 Iss: 2, pp.112 - 132
Keywords:Lean assessment, Lean culture, Lean manufacturing, Lean production, Lean thinking, Lean transformation, Manufacturing systems, Research work, Toyota Production System
Article type:Literature review
DOI:10.1108/20401461211243702 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present a systematic review of four decades of scholarly lean literature and identify phases of lean while highlighting core knowledge and voids from within the scholarly lean literature.

Design/methodology/approach – The methodology applied to better understand lean over the past four decades was a systematic review of literature, as described by Machi and McEvoy in The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success.

Findings – This literature review has synthesized and categorized four decades of scholarly literature, along with influential books from credible researchers and practitioners of lean, in an effort to decipher the lean thinking paradigm from jargon to a commonly-shared language. In total, five themes evolved from the analysis starting with the Discovery phase (1970-1990), Dissemination phase (1991-1996), Implementation phase (1997-2000), Enterprise phase (2001-2005), and the most recent phase of Performance (2006-2009).

Research limitations/implications – The literature review was limited to articles available to the researcher using search terms restricted to: lean manufacturing, lean production, lean thinking, lean and review, lean and Toyota Production System, lean assessment, lean culture, lean transformation. The databases accessed through EBSCO were: Academic Source Premier, Business Source Premier, ERIC, and PsycINFO.

Originality/value – Publications tracing the lineage of lean over the past four decades are sparse, based on lean scholarly literature, exposing a void in the knowledge base. This literature review should assist other scholars and practitioners who are interested in substantiating their lean endeavours.

Fulltext Options:



Existing customers: login
to access this document


- Forgot password?
- Athens/Institutional login



Downloadable; Printable; Owned
HTML, PDF (172kb)

Due to our platform migration, pay-per-view is temporarily unavailable.

To purchase this item please login or register.


- Forgot password?

Recommend to your librarian

Complete and print this form to request this document from your librarian

Marked list

Bookmark & share

Reprints & permissions