Opinion — Lean manufacturing, leadership, and employees: The case of UAE SME manufacturing companies

Ambar Prajapati
4 min readMar 22, 2022

Opinion on Research Paper

Alefari, M., Almanei, M. and Salonitis, K., 2020. Lean manufacturing, leadership and employees: the case of UAE SME manufacturing companies. Production & Manufacturing Research, 8(1), pp.222–243.

Link to the article:

The article, “Lean manufacturing, leadership and employees: the case of UAE SME manufacturing companies”, by Alefari, M., Almanei, M. and Salonitis, K. aims to determine how well the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) in United Arab Emirates (UAE) recognize lean principles and the challenges they face while taking lean initiatives. The research aims to help develop frameworks to model employee performance and leadership practices for undertaking successful lean initiatives. This critique will evaluate the study and examine if it fulfills the stated objectives.

Overview: The UAE is an Arab League country and is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The manufacturing sector in UAE aims to contribute to 25% of the GDP by 2025. The SMEs in this sector make up 94% of all the manufacturing companies. The authors perform research, first of its kind in the context of UAE, that examines the leadership influence on employee performance while the enterprises undergo the lean journey. The authors believe employee performance is instrumental in lean implementation and is impacted significantly by the leadership. The authors use a phased approach in their research that involves literature review and dual surveys with questionnaires on demographics, lean understanding, and leadership characteristics that matter for a successful lean transition. The authors explore the workforce and management-related behaviors critical to lean implementation through this approach.

Detailed Analysis: The lean principles are de-facto manufacturing standards and have been widely acknowledged and practiced around the globe for more than half a century. However, the authors emphasize that the transition to a lean enterprise is no simple feat in a developing country like UAE. A lean transformation requires heavy involvement from the shop floor, yet senior leadership’s vision, motivation, and guidance determine the actual outcome. The authors cite studies of lean implementation in several countries, including many…