International Journal of Business and Social Science

ISSN 2219-1933 (Print), 2219-6021 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijbss

The Value of Lean in the Service Sector: A Critique of Theory & Practice
David Arfmann, Dr. Federico, G. Topolansky Barbe

This paper explores the rationale and value of applying lean principles to service sector organizations. The objective of the paper is twofold. First, it challenges the foundations of lean service and identifies several flaws in this production practice. Second, it aims to critically analyze the value of the customer pull concept in service systems. Thirteen databases and search engines were used to obtain literature, and the search was limited to studies published in English since 2005. More than 700 papers were identified through several loops of keywords adjustment and abstract screening to ensure quality and relevance. The review suggests that benefits of lean service transformation are at least doubtful. The review also indicates that lean service transformation is not able to address service operations challenges appropriately. The reason lies in its origins and specific characteristics. Existing research on lean services have failed to criticize lean principles when applied to the service sector. This review will partially fill this gap in the literature. The paper also highlights several opportunities for further research.

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