A multilevel case study critique of six sigma: Statistical control or strategic change?

Rodney McAdam, Brendan Lafferty

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    150 Citations (Scopus)


    Increasing competitive pressure in all business sectors (e.g. private, public SME) is reflected in the continuing quest for business improvement philosophies and methodologies to address this challenge. Recent developments have included increased organisational and academic interest in the six sigma approach to business improvement. There are many organisational examples (mainly USA and UK based) of large scale improvements in defect and process measures attributed to this approach However, there is a paucity of critical studies on six sigma beyond that of "how to" and that of descriptive accounts, with a focus on measures and results rather than employee involvement and motivation. The aim of this paper is to explore the development of six sigma in a multilevel case analysis, from both a process perspective and a people perspective. The findings show that the case organisation had to widen its conception and application of six sigma to include people and organisational criteria to enable the approach to become embedded in the organisation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)530-549
    Number of pages20
    JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
    Issue number5-6
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2004

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • Business enterprise
    • Business improvement
    • Private sector organizations
    • Statistical process control


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