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Antonio N. de Miranda Filho1, Luiz F. M. Heineck2 and Jorge Moreira da Costa3 ABSTRACT Currently, there is a good understanding that companies do not obtain satisfactory results when lean practices are implemented alone. The benefits can only be realized by making a substantial number of organizational changes,which in turn need to be coherent with the business strategy. However, contextual factors drive companies to adopt different business strategies, organizational structures and bundles of production practices. Consequently, the sequence and content of business development projects aimed to implement and test lean construction practices can vary according to each firm’s internal characteristics andconjunctural needs. This paper argues that lean implementation is not an isolated event, but part of an effort to create a strategy-structure alignment. Moreover, because lean implementation is conducted through different internal projects, it is also argued that projects constitute the link between business strategy, organizational structure and lean processes. A model is proposed to explain therole that projects play in interlinking strategy, structure and processes. In doing so, the authors hope to bring awareness to the bigger changes behind lean implementation and to the challenges of building “finely-tuned” organizations for specific missions. KEY WORDS Project-based view, organization structure, lean implementation.

INTRODUCTION Contextual factors drive companies to find multiple,equally effective ways to compete within a particular industry. However, in free-market economies, the top competitors in each market sector are the organizations showing the best environmental and internal fit (e.g., Christiansen et al. 2003). Such companies are aware of the tangible and intangible attributes that impact the workings of a production system and the emergence of its competences.Consequently, they are cautious in aligning strategic choices in production strategy with one another and with those in other functional strategies. Coherence between subsystems is recognized as necessary to make the bigger system capable of supporting the business strategy.



Civil Engineer, M.Sc., Ph.D., CEO, Construtora Santo Amaro Ltda., Fortaleza-CE, Brazil,anmirandaf@yahoo.com.br Civil Engineer, Ph.D., Senior Professor, Production Engineering Department, Federal University of Ceará, Brazil. freitas8@terra.com.br Civil Engineer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Porto, Portugal, jmfcosta@fe.up.pt


Differently, there is a lack of understanding by top managers of construction firms that, in any context, the development of asuccessful production system is the result of not one but many internal adjustments in the content of production strategy. This seems to be the root cause of the difficulties to implement lean practices in construction firms. The focus of such initiatives has been primarily on the tools of best-in-class production models and not much on the supporting underlying principles and strategic choices.The recognition of this problem has led the authors to explore the myriad of factors that affect the performance of production systems and best practice development. The discussion presented in this paper is supported by a literature review on best practice implementation and by the authors’ personal experiences with the topic. Besides bringing awareness to the challenge of shaping organizationsfor specific missions, the objective is to present lean implementation as the result of internal adjustments carried out in the form of business development projects. A model is proposed to explain the role that projects play in interlinking strategy, structure and lean processes. THE NEED FOR CHANGE AT ALL LEVELS A production model is the result of a combination between strategic choices,...