Defining and developing measures of lean production

Rachna Shah, Peter T. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1451 Scopus citations


Our research addresses the confusion and inconsistency associated with "lean production." We attempt to clarify the semantic confusion surrounding lean production by conducting an extensive literature review using a historical evolutionary perspective in tracing its main components. We identify a key set of measurement items by charting the linkages between measurement instruments that have been used to measure its various components from the past literature, and using a rigorous, two-stage empirical method and data from a large set of manufacturing firms, we narrow the list of items selected to represent lean production to 48 items, empirically identifying 10 underlying components. In doing so, we map the operational space corresponding to conceptual space surrounding lean production. Configuration theory provides the theoretical underpinnings and helps to explain the synergistic relationships among its underlying components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-805
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Operations Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007


  • Confirmatory factor analysis
  • Lean production
  • Scale development


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