Textile Management enabled by lean thinking

Abstract: Reports from the European Commission point out a difficult financial landscape and competitive mar-ket for textile companies. Increased competition from low-wage countries is one cause. This has forced changes to both the companies’ structure and the supply chain, like off-shoring and outsourcing of manufacturing activities. The new structure means that companies have to address efficiency in areas like support processes and development. To address this, other industry sectors, such as automo-tive, have explored and implemented lean. Research confirms that organizations can increase perfor-mance by introducing lean. However both in the textile sector and generally in settings outside manu-facturing several researchers have identified research gaps, both in terms of administrative applications and how employees are affected. These gaps are explored in three different research questions support-ing the following main purpose:To explore how lean principles and methods, from a textile management perspective, can benefit tex-tile companiesThe research methodology aligns to an abductive research approach, merging theory and real-life ob-servation throughout the project. This approach also supports a close connection between theory-building and practice development. The empirical data, from which the analysis and conclusions are made, is gathered in four appended papers. Two of them use a case study methodology, one a single case study approach and one a multiple-case study approach, respectively. The two other papers use an action research approach. The research quality has been demonstrated mainly by addressing issues related to research bias and reactivity, two key areas in qualitative research.Concluding the results shows that lean can serve as an enabler for the textile sector, applied in a textile management context. The research provides useful insights of effects due to lean intervention and also adds to the lean research body beyond a manufacturing context. From a managerial implications stand-point the research supports companies regarding both how to apply lean outside production and what effects that it can result in. It can also serve as a guideline at a strategy level on how to achieve busi-ness improvement. Future research is needed at system level with a scope of an entire company, since this research has explored lean at a minor scale. Also conflicting findings connected to changed work-related stress levels were found regarding the employee perspective. This needs to be explored further to understand how possibly increased stress can be reduced or eliminated.