A pull system for delegating knowledge work

Abstract

A pull system using kanban is commonly used in manufacturing settings to efficiently control the flow of goods. Its success in service operations is limited to processes similar to production lines when the output is repetitive. This paper examined how well a pull system for delegating non-repetitive output performed in an experimental setting of knowledge work, similar to what is found in many services. Results indicated that performance, as measured by completion time for cognitive tasks, improved under a pull as opposed to a push system of delegation. The improvement occurred with no change in output quality, stress levels, or satisfaction.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable contributions to this paper. Understandably, this being cross-disciplinary research, the authors contributed equally in their efforts.

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Correspondence to Robert F. Marsh.

Additional information

Portions of this data were presented at the Academy of Management Conference, Philadelphia, PA, August, 2007.

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Marsh, R.F., Conard, M.A. A pull system for delegating knowledge work. Oper Manag Res 1, 61 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12063-008-0006-y

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Keywords

  • Pull
  • Delegation
  • Performance
  • Worker efficiency