Abstract for: The Role of Goal-Setting and Commitment in Continuous Improvement Processes

One obstacle in the way of enduring process improvement is the necessity to gain and sustain a momentum towards change in organizations. Building upon previous work in the field of operations management and system dynamics, a generic model is outlined that mimics the implementation of several process improvement programs in an industrial organization. For this purpose, the model exhibits a conceptual distinction between particular improvement programs (e.g., total quality management, total productive maintenance) and the overall improvement process. The latter is represented by a continuous PDCA-cycle that connects organizational capabilities on process improvement, development of commitment towards change on different hierarchical levels, and managerial improvement goals with several improvement programs. Among other findings, the simulation experiments show that goal-setting is a crucial aspect in continuous process improvement processes that—if wrongly applied—can stall the organizational commitment to change. Furthermore analyses reveal that plants should strive for process improvement patterns that exhibit higher organizational rather than technical complexity. The value of the conducted approach lies in the explicit analysis of the interplay between goal-setting, organizational learning, program commitment, and process improvement programs.