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continuous improvement

Vinod K. Jain


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Continuous improvement refers, in general, to systematic organizational efforts aimed at creating and sustaining a culture of constant improvement and change ( Locke and Jain, 1995 ). A continuous improvement program (CIP), by definition, is a systematic and well‐thought‐out effort on the part of the organization to make ongoing improvements in one or more of its work systems. It is not at odds with meeting goals and specifications; it is just that improvement efforts never cease ( see learning organization ). Practiced in Japan for over 40 years, CIPs became popular in the West during the 1990s as a result of the globalization of competition and programs such as iso 9000 and the malcolm baldrige national quality award . Researchers have equated continuous improvement with suggestion systems ( Schroeder and Robinson, 1991 ), process improvement ( Dewar, 1992 ), total quality management ( Porter, 1993 ), and so on, depending upon their individual perspectives. Organizations adopt CIPs for a variety of reasons, such as survival, within the context of the global economy, because their competitors are already using CIP. CIPs are often operationalized in terms of such goals as improved customer satisfaction, productivity , and quality, and reduced cycle times and costs. Continuous improvement entails new, ongoing learning. New ideas are essential if organizational learning is ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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