|dc.description.abstract||This thesis is concerned with development of a management practice framework
for improving organisational performance, particularly within a Western manufacturing
environment. The research has chosen a particular management practice originated in
Japan, called ‘5S’. In the development of an integrated management systems (IMS)
framework, 5S is increasingly adopted to assist in integrating various improvement
initiatives. Nonetheless, a predominant understanding of 5S as ‘housekeeping’ militates
against the development of an effective IMS framework. In addition, a scarcity of
studies on 5S highlights how little attention has been paid to understanding 5S
holistically by Western organisations and academic researchers.
The research is a qualitative investigation challenging previous research and
practice where the nature of 5S has been conceptualised without considering the
perspective of practitioners who directly experience it. The study has explored the ways
in which a group of team leaders of a food manufacturing plant experience 5S practice
within their organisational context. The research has focused on how differently these
practitioners understand and apply the concept of 5S when they receive identical
information and training from their organisation.
The theoretical framework of the current study is underpinned by an interpretive
perspective, which emphasise the importance of personal experiences.
Phenomenography, an innovative approach, is adopted to identify and articulate the
qualitative variation in which practitioners experience 5S. Phenomenographic
approaches have been widely used, but mainly in fields outside management research.
All 13 team leaders of a food manufacturing plant operating in Australia participated in
the study. These team leaders had no previous knowledge about 5S until they received
information from their organisation. Guided by the photo-interviewing method, team
leaders expressed various approaches to understanding and applying the concept of 5S
then clarified their statements with photographs they took and brought. This visual
approach allowed the researcher to share the experiences of team leaders. Other visual
data, such as posters, charts and graphs were also collected to understand the nature of
5S in a holistic manner.
The phenomenographic analysis revealed four qualitatively different ways in
which team leaders of a food manufacturing plant in Australia experience 5S. These four
ways of experiencing 5S were intertwined each other but also included a degree of
increasing richness and complexity. The study also found that the nature of 5S within a
contemporary manufacturing environment is still evolving. The research finds that there
is a considerable gap between the theory and practice of 5S.
This research contributes to the body of management practice literature by
providing a comprehensive understanding about the nature of 5S from the perspective of
practitioners. The research also extends the IMS framework based on the understanding
of 5S developed through the current study. The four ways of experiencing 5S throw new
light on the subject, calling into question the unitary view, which until now 5S has been
conceptualised only by researchers and senior executives whose experience in 5S is
limited in practice. The conceptual framework of viewing 5S through the experiences of
practitioners developed from the study will assist managers and educators making sense
of how differently practitioners conceive 5S through their own experiences and turn the
theory of 5S into practice.||en_US