Purdue University Graduate School
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posted on 2020-05-02, 12:02 authored by Na LiNa Li

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) has been implemented worldwide for many years and has been successful in many organizations. Eloot, Huang, and Lehnich (2013) noted that achieving manufacturing excellence by using LSS was an opportunity for many companies. Liker and Rother (2011) pointed out that only 2% of companies successfully achieved the desired results with Lean plans.

The presented dissertation identified the critical success factors of LSS implementation for Chinese manufacturing companies and explored the challenges occurring during the LSS transformations. The objectives of this dissertation were:

i. to understand how the employee training process for LSS can be designed using total quality management (TQM) adoption in private manufacturing organizations in China;

ii. to understand how LSS practices can be adopted successfully in SMEs in China;

iii. to examine and explore the critical success factors (CSF) of LSS implementation;

iv. to discuss the challenges occurring during LSS transformation.

Objective (i) was achieved through a descriptive single case study. This case study showed how to apply a design for Six Sigma methodology (DMADV) for staff training in quality management tools in a private organization in China. The author also discussed the problems occurring during the Six Sigma project and explored how organizational culture impacted Six Sigma implementation. Objective (ii) was achieved through a detailed descriptive single case study which recorded how LSS practices were adopted successfully in a SME-VTCL in China using DMAIC methodology. Survey data was collected to identify and explore the critical success factors of LSS implementation in SMEs, by querying the voice of top, middle, and frontline management, as well as frontline workers of these companies. Objectives (iii) and (iv) were realized utilizing descriptive, exploratory, and multi-case studies designed to gather and analyze observational and interview data. The resulting interview data, and the key factors for successful LSS transformation of these three companies were discussed from the perspective of senior management and LSS promoters within the companies. Based on interview data and the Lean iceberg model, a new LSS transformation model was proposed. The author also developed 6 propositions based on the findings from the interviews.

In summary, the results of this study provided value and references for LSS practitioners to expand the body of knowledge on the strategies used to implement LSS successfully inside organizations. The findings of this research may potentially lead more Chinese organizations to successfully adopt LSS to provide customers with high-quality products. The three LSS implementation cases described critical success factors (CSFs) and challenges that occurred during the transformation, may improve the success rate of implementation, help enterprises achieve the desired results through LSS, and enhance the sustainability of LSS implementations.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Technology Leadership and Innovation

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Chad Laux

Additional Committee Member 2

Stephanie Zywicki

Additional Committee Member 3

Jiju Antony

Additional Committee Member 4

John Springer

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