Critical success factors for implementing continuous improvement approaches within public sector organisations

Michele Cano*, Evdoxia Viza, Athanassios Kourouklis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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This paper examines the critical success factors (CSFs) for implementing continuous improvement (CI) approaches such as lean management within the public sector.

Sixteen in-depth interviews were carried out with practitioners of continuous improvement across a range of public sector organisations to identify the main issues and critical success factors of initiatives such as lean management (LM), six sigma (SS) and total quality management (TQM).

The critical success factors are presented under three main themes: leadership, staff buy-in and operations. Consistent with literature, the findings show that leadership commitment is the most critical factor however, within public sector organisations, hands-on leadership and leadership understanding of the initiative is also a critical success factor. Additionally findings also demonstrate that while employee buy-in is also key to the success of any initiative, is closely related to the drivers of the initiative i.e. cost versus value, and the importance of negotiation and dialogue at the employee buy-in stage especially for public sector organisations.

Practical implications

This research provides public sector practitioners of CI with a framework indicating how the CSFs which need to be considered in any implementation effort are inter-related.

This paper also contributions to practice and knowledge as it expands current thinking on critical success factors for implementation of CI in public sector organisations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication20th Excellence in Services University of Verona International Conference
Subtitle of host publicationConference Proceedings
Place of PublicationItaly
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9788890432774
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2017
EventExcellence in Services International Conference - University of Verona, Verona, Italy
Duration: 7 Sep 20178 Sep 2017
Conference number: 20


ConferenceExcellence in Services International Conference
Internet address


  • Continuous improvement
  • Critical success factors
  • Public sector


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