DOI

10.5703/1288284317335

Abstract

Abstract

Purpose: Public Service Organisations (PSOs) are facing continuing funding challenges and increased pressure to maintain and improve service delivery with fewer resources. One response, with the promise of improving efficiency rather than cutting services, has been to implement Continuous Improvement (CI) but success has been sporadic and unpredictable. The well documented and pervasive CI methodologies in PSOs, including Lean and Six Sigma, have general agreement across practitioners and scholars alike, thus the reasons behind their potted success must lie elsewhere, in the culture or the environment perhaps? This work explores the wider contextual issues of CI implementation with the aim of providing guidelines to give a greater confidence of successful implementation.

Study design/methodology/approach: A structured literature review provided the initial conceptual framework that was further developed through a series of in-depth, semi-structured interviews carried out with industry experts. The framework illustrates the phenomenon of organisational learning in relation to CI in UK PSOs.

Findings: The research shows that emphasis should be placed on addressing logic and mindsets at an individual and organisational level in order to re-focus CI efforts and achieve sustainable process improvement. Particular attention should be placed on the role of leaders.

Originality/value: This research takes a unique approach to CI in the UK PSO context, providing insights into the achievement of sustainable CI and a theoretical framework for addressing PSO logic. It establishes a theoretical foundation for the evaluation of organisational learning in relation to sustainable CI in UK PSOs. It also makes practical recommendations to support PSO to reveal, evaluate and address organisational principles through interactive workshops, which are currently being piloted in a UK health sector organisation. Research should continue to focus on the critical role of organisational learning and governing variables in relation to addressing PSO logic for sustained CI.

Key words: Public Service Organisation (PSO), Continuous Improvement (CI), organisational learning, sustainment

Paper Type: Research paper

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Sustaining Continuous Improvement in Public Sector Services Through Double Loop Learning

Abstract

Purpose: Public Service Organisations (PSOs) are facing continuing funding challenges and increased pressure to maintain and improve service delivery with fewer resources. One response, with the promise of improving efficiency rather than cutting services, has been to implement Continuous Improvement (CI) but success has been sporadic and unpredictable. The well documented and pervasive CI methodologies in PSOs, including Lean and Six Sigma, have general agreement across practitioners and scholars alike, thus the reasons behind their potted success must lie elsewhere, in the culture or the environment perhaps? This work explores the wider contextual issues of CI implementation with the aim of providing guidelines to give a greater confidence of successful implementation.

Study design/methodology/approach: A structured literature review provided the initial conceptual framework that was further developed through a series of in-depth, semi-structured interviews carried out with industry experts. The framework illustrates the phenomenon of organisational learning in relation to CI in UK PSOs.

Findings: The research shows that emphasis should be placed on addressing logic and mindsets at an individual and organisational level in order to re-focus CI efforts and achieve sustainable process improvement. Particular attention should be placed on the role of leaders.

Originality/value: This research takes a unique approach to CI in the UK PSO context, providing insights into the achievement of sustainable CI and a theoretical framework for addressing PSO logic. It establishes a theoretical foundation for the evaluation of organisational learning in relation to sustainable CI in UK PSOs. It also makes practical recommendations to support PSO to reveal, evaluate and address organisational principles through interactive workshops, which are currently being piloted in a UK health sector organisation. Research should continue to focus on the critical role of organisational learning and governing variables in relation to addressing PSO logic for sustained CI.

Key words: Public Service Organisation (PSO), Continuous Improvement (CI), organisational learning, sustainment

Paper Type: Research paper