This study examines the associations between lean manufacturing (LM), sustainability practices, and corporate performance in the form of the triple bottom line (TBL). In particular, we examine how LM is associated with environmental practices (EPs) and social practices (SPs) for TBL performance. While the positive association between LM and EPs is widely discussed in literature, it remains unclear whether this association persists when firms aim to implement SPs together with EPs to improve TBL performance further, particularly from the Asian perspective. Using two conflicting views of corporate sustainability as a theoretical lens, we seek to address these gaps by developing a set of hypotheses about the direct and interactive associations among them. The data were collected via a survey of 177 manufacturing firms in India, one being regarded as a next global manufacturing hub. Based on the data, we conducted ordinary least squares regression analysis. The results suggest that LM is positively associated with EPs, SPs, and TBL performance. Nevertheless, when LM interacts with EPs, SPs or both, we find that it is detrimental for TBL performance. These results are further validated by additional analyses using Johnson–Neyman and bootstrapping techniques. This article contributes to the sustainable operations management and lean manufacturing literature by untangling complex and paradoxical association between LM, sustainability practices, and TBL performance. Also, our article initiates a crucial discussion on ways of managing paradoxical tensions between LM and sustainability practices.
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Findings from Aalto University Provide New Insights into Sustainability Research (Paradoxical Association Between Lean Manufacturing, Sustainability Practices and Triple Bottom Line Performance)
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