Senior leader commitment to continuous process improvement: An exploratory study of a military organization

by Hamm, Robert Earl, Jr., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2013, 179 pages; 3599292


To help achieve mandated reductions in spending, all departments within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) have been tasked to step up efforts to help drive waste and inefficiency from processes. As a result, the DoD has adopted continuous process improvement as 1 approach to reducing the waste embedded in current processes. The goal is to create a culture within the DoD of striving for continuous process improvement at every level and in every department, thereby improving stewardship of taxpayer dollars while meeting the nation's defense challenges. Research indicates leadership commitment is an essential ingredient in the successful implementation of continuous process improvement in organizations. However, little qualitative research is available regarding the factors that compel senior leaders within organizations to initially consider continuous process improvement, commit to continuous process improvement, or sustain commitment to continuous process improvement. Literature related to organizational culture, change, and leadership was critically reviewed. In-depth interviews with 18 individuals selected from a pool of 146 senior leaders within a department of the DoD were used to investigate the experiences, perceptions, and insights of senior leaders with respect to commitment to continuous improvement. Participants in this study indicated that senior leader commitment is essential if an organization is to enjoy the benefits of continuous process improvement. Participants revealed that continuous process improvement was good for the organization and worth the effort expended. Meaningful results that lead to improved mission accomplishment have a strong influence on a senior leader's willingness to commit to and sustain continuous process improvement. Participants indicated they were committed to continuous process improvement but noted that continuous process improvement can be an administrative burden. Participants asserted that credibility is critical when demonstrating their commitment to other members of the organization. Participants opined that top management must be willing to empower senior leaders to implement challenging or risky solutions. Building on the very limited understanding of senior leader commitment to process improvement, the findings of this study provide a better understanding of how senior leaders make the decision to commit to and sustain continuous improvement in organizations.

AdviserLaura Markos
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Public administration; Military studies
Publication Number3599292

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