The Complex Determinants of Financial Results in a Lean Transformation Process: The Case of Italian SMEs

Part of the FGF Studies in Small Business and Entrepreneurship book series (FGFS)


This study, by analyzing a sample composed of some of the best Italian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are engaged in a lean effort, adopts a multi-method approach to investigate the complex relationship between the level of implementation of lean systems, the adoption of a set of “high involvement” management behaviors and a sustained financial performance, controlling for such variables as the duration of the “lean journey” and the size of the firm. Through fuzzy-set analysis, this study focuses on the process of financial value creation within a firm due to the lean transformation and on the multifaceted relation among its determinants. Our results corroborate the perspective of lean environments as complex and integrated sociotechnical systems, confirming that the configurational approach is the most appropriate to analyze them. From this study emerges that the best performing lean companies, according to the adopted financial criteria, are those that wholly embrace the lean philosophy, follow its principles and apply its tools for years. The role of the “high involvement” management behaviors appears to be essential, since they create an environment where the lean techniques and tools can be more effective.


Financial performance Fuzzy-set analysis Lean thinking Lean transformation Management behaviors 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management and Technology and CRIOS (Center for Research in Innovation, Organization, Strategy & EntrepreneurshipBocconi UniversityMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of ManagementUniversità Ca’ Foscari VeneziaVeniceItaly

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