Lean leadership across different national cultures: A comparative study

Desirée H. van Dun, Guilherme Luz Tortorella, Lara Carminati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Most studies on organisational lean transformation have been conducted in the North-Western hemisphere. This questions the cross-cultural generalisability and understanding of managers’ leadership style that is required to effectively guide lean transformations. Our mixed-methods study compares effective Brazilian to Dutch lean managers’ behaviours and values and builds on a total of 43 in-depth interviews and 100 surveys with focal managers, their bosses, and subordinates. While self-transcendence and openness-to-change values were similar across cultures, Brazilian lean managers were perceived to show more relations-, change-, and task-oriented behaviours than the Dutch ones. The Brazilian managers also strongly identified with lean leaders, noting that lean values were quite different from Brazilian ones. Thus, Identity Theory is introduced to explain these striking differences and three propositions are formulated to guide future longitudinal mixed-methods research across the globe. Multinational organisations are advised to build a strong ‘lean identity’ across their plants to stimulate lean-leadership development.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProduction planning & control
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Jun 2023

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