Lean Supply Chain Management in SMEs: A Case Study of a New Zealand Company
In the modern business world, the competition among companies has been generally becoming the competition among supply chains (SCs). Supply chain management (SCM) is playing an increasingly significant role in running a business regardless of its size. Lean Thinking, as a useful tool to enhance the efficiency of the production process, it can also be used in the other processes and fields in a general business including SCM. This thesis focuses on the Lean supply chain management (LSCM) in a company of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and uses literature analysis and case study as the research strategy. In the literature review, key concepts such as SC, SCM, Lean Thinking, and LSCM will be introduced and reviewed; the model of SCM and the principles of Lean Thinking will be discussed. All of these are the theory preparation for LSCM implementation. By single case study, this research aims at finding out how the case company did the Lean implementation in the company and throughout its SC and what effects were achieved, exploring the reason why some Lean practices are suitable for an SME to improve its SCM and some others are not, and developing a theoretical explanation of what LSCM is for an SME and how to achieve it. This research tries to cast light on filling the gap in the existing theoretical research on LSCM in SMEs. As an employee in the case company, I adopted an empathetic stance, entered the company, and observed the research phenomenon from the inside of the company. This provided me a major advantage in collecting valuable data (both of primary data and secondary data), understanding the real situation, and conducting deep analysis. As a single case study on a New Zealand SME, this thesis has some inherent difficulties with generalizing its research findings. But some general problems that the case company encounters are similar with the ones other companies have, especially for the companies in the promotional product industry and some SMEs with similar SC structure. So, some conclusions of the case study, for example the characteristics of LSCM, the method of applying lean principles and arranging lean implementation process, can be generalized to a wider scope.
Advisor: Everett, André
Degree Name: Master of Commerce
Degree Discipline: Management
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: SC; SCM; LSCM; Lean
Research Type: Thesis