Understanding the influences on employee motivation for Lean: An individual-level analysis.
Beale, Joanna Robyn
It has been widely argued that employee motivation is critical for successful Lean implementation, yet scant research has investigated the individual-level influences on employee motivation for Lean. The primary purpose of the present research is to explore employee beliefs about adopting Lean behaviours (LBs) such as suggestion-making and problem-solving and the efficacy of a well-established psychological model of behaviour, the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB, Ajzen, 1991), to explain employees' intentions to adopt, and their future engagement in, LBs. The impact of a number of individual-level constructs external to the TPB is also considered, including job-related factors (job satisfaction, organisational commitment, Lean self-efficacy, past behaviour, union membership, organisational tenure, employee level) and person-related factors (personality, gender, age). Data (54 face-to-face structured interviews, 3 focus groups with 23 employees, 1030 questionnaires) was collected from employees in four organisations initiating Lean change. Employees generally held positive beliefs about adopting LBs and could see the benefits both for themselves and for their organisation. An average 57.4% of the variance in intentions was explained by attitude, subjective norm and perceived behavioural control (PBC). PBC was a significant predictor of intentions with all four samples attitude and subjective norm were also significant predictors with the larger samples. Consistently, the non-TPB variables did not predict intentions independently of the TPB variables. Intentions and PBC explained on average 9.6% of the variance in behaviour. Past behaviour, employee level, Lean self-efficacy, job satisfaction, organisational commitment, union membership and neuroticism emerged as significant predictors of behaviour independently of the TPB variables with some of the samples. Personality did not moderate the intentions-behaviour relation and openness was consistently the only personality trait with a significant independent effect on Lean self-efficacy. The thesis discusses the practical implications of the findings for organisations implementing Lean in terms of designing work environments, communication, training and the use of personality inventories for recruitment. Limitations of the study and appropriate directions for future research are explored.