Using the socio-economic approach to management to augment Lean Six Sigma

Sean P. Goffnett, Lawrence Lepisto, Randall Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present a framework and a case that delineates the coordinated use of the socio-economic approach to management (SEAM) and Lean Six Sigma (LSS) to facilitate operational change. Design/methodology/approach – This study uses action research and thematic analysis to explore the augmentation of existing process improvement and organizational assessment methodologies in a production environment. Findings – Organizations are under increasing pressure to improve all aspects of business. Project leaders and consultants often follow popular quantitatively oriented protocols like LSS to evaluate explicit operational processes. Including a qualitatively oriented protocol like SEAM expands the project leader’s capability through greater consideration of implicit organizational issues. This paper presents a case where LSS was complemented by SEAM to assess a process that was entangled with several latent organizational dysfunctions. Practical implications – SEAM and LSS are accepted protocols to facilitate process improvement and organizational change. Pairing the two protocols into a SEAM-LSS model offers the strengths of each approach, while compensating for the limitations of each. The result is a more inclusive change protocol that reduces potential oversights and inefficiencies that could occur if project leaders worked within the purview of only one methodology. Originality/value – This paper uses action research to propose a model to bring qualitative and quantitative methodologies together into a larger complementary framework to use when evaluating organizational problems and opportunities. This paper aims to stimulate discussion and research that would lead to more robust process improvement protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-97
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Productivity and Performance Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 11 2016


  • Action research
  • Change
  • Lean Six Sigma
  • Organizational development
  • Process improvement
  • Socio-economic approach to management


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