Building a process model of local adaptation of practices: A study of Six Sigma implementation in Korean and US firms

Jisun Yu, Srilata Zaheer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The strategic transformation of Asian firms into global players has involved the adoption and adaptation of many organizational practices developed in the West. We build a process model of adaptation by observing how an organizational practice is adapted to a local setting different from its locus of origin, through inductive methods and case studies of Six Sigma implementation in Korean and US firms. Based on these cases, we propose a cascading, sequential pattern to the local adaptation of the conceptual, social and technical dimensions of organizational practices, reconciling conflicting views in the literature on whether or not to adapt. Our theoretical model highlights the importance of considering the different degrees of contextual influence on different underlying dimensions of a practice, and of configuring each dimension accordingly. Further, we suggest that the sequence and configuration of adaptation across different practice dimensions matter to the successful implementation of a practice across borders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-499
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Andy Van de Ven for his commitment and insightful comments on this research project. We also thank Sukyul Suh, Tongil Ahn, and Jongku Kwon for their support with the case studies. Finally, we gratefully acknowledge financial support from University of Minnesota and the Juran Fellowship.


  • Adaptation of practices
  • Local adaptation
  • Process theory


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