AJIBM  Vol.7 No.5 , May 2017
Lean, Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma in Higher Education: A Review of Experiences around the World
Abstract: Economic, demographic, social, technological and political changes worldwide are putting academic institutions under intense pressures. In response, universities are adopting new managerial approaches to their activities: lean, six sigma and lean six sigma. A portrait of this experience emerges from reviewing the literature published over the past decade using the databases Compendex & INSPEC/Engineering Village and Scopus. These approaches have been applied primarily on a highly localized basis to teaching-related processes or to services such as financing, data processing and building maintenance. Some of the challenges raised are not unknown outside of the university setting. The complexity of universities, the difficulties of interpreting notions such as the client, added value, and the connexions between teaching and research, make the implementation of these approaches difficult. While the few measured results available suggest that they do hold promise, their impact remains to be determined.
Cite this paper: Nadeau, S. (2017) Lean, Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma in Higher Education: A Review of Experiences around the World. American Journal of Industrial and Business Management, 7, 591-603. doi: 10.4236/ajibm.2017.75044.

[1]   Brookes, M. and Becket, N. (2007) Quality Management in Higher Education: A Review of International Issues and Practice. International Journal of Quality and Standards, 1, 1-37.

[2]   Quinn, A., Lemay, G., Larsen, P. and Johnson, D.M. (2009) Service Quality in Higher Education. Total Quality Management, 20, 139-152.

[3]   Comm, C.L. and Mathaisel, D.F.X. (2005) A Case Study in Applying Lean Sustainability Concepts to Universities. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 6, 134-146.

[4]   Larouche, C. and Savard, D. (2012) Typologie des conceptions des universités en vue d’en évaluer la performance: Rendre compte de la diversité pour en saisir la complexité. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 42, 45-64.

[5]   Svensson, C., Antony, J., Ba-Essa, M., Bakhsh, M. and Albliwi, S. (2015) A Lean Six Sigma Program in Higher Education. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 32, 951-969.

[6]   Bandyopadhyah, J.K. and Lichman, R. (2007) Six Sigma Approach to Quality and Productivity Improvement in Institution for Higher Education in the United States. International Journal of Management, 24, 1-5.

[7]   Brennan, L. and Bennington, L. (2000) Concepts in Conflict: Students and Customers—An Australian Perspective. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 9, 19-40.

[8]   Hemsley-Brown, J.V. and Oplatka, I. (2006) Universities in a Competitive Global Marketplace: A Systematic Review of the Literature on Higher Education Marketing. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 19, 316-338.

[9]   Watt, C., Angelis, J. and Chapman, D. (2012) Customer Value and Lean Operations in Masters Education. Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Antwerp, 6-7th September 2012, 699-704.

[10]   Vauterin, J.J., Linnanen, L. and Marttila, E. (2011) Issues of Delivering Quality Customer Service in a Higher Education Environment. International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, 3, 181-198.

[11]   Geryk, M. (2016) Global Challenges for the Universities and Managers of the Higher Education Sector. In: Kantola, J.J., et al., Eds., Advances in Human Factors, Business Management, Training and Education, Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, 455-464.

[12]   Schalick, J.A. (2006) Technology and Changes in the Concept of the University: Comments on the Reinvention of the Role of the University East and West. PICMET 2006 Proceedings, Istanbul, 9-13 July 2006, 1140-1146.

[13]   Nejati, M. and Nejati, M. (2013) Assessment of Sustainable University Factors from the Perspective of University Studies. Journal of Cleaner Production, 48, 101-107.

[14]   Hess, J.D. and Benjamin, B.A. (2015) Applying Lean Six Sigma within the University: Opportunities for Process Improvement and Cultural Change. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, 3, 249-262.

[15]   Emiliani, M.L. (2015) Lean University. A Guide to Renewal and Prosperity. The CLBM, Wethersfield, 162 p.

[16]   Suarez-Barraza, M.F., Smith, T. and Dahlgaard-Park, S.M. (2012) Lean Service: A Literature Analysis and Classification. Total Quality Management, 23, 359-380.

[17]   Francis, D.E. (2014) Lean and the Learning Organization in Higher Education. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, No. 157, 1-23.

[18]   Jordan, V. and Carruth, L. (2012) A Systems Approach to Implementing Systems Engineering within UT Health Institutions. Proceedings of the 2012 International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management, Istanbul, 3-6 July 2012, 646-655.

[19]   Waterbury, T. (2015) Learning from Pioneers. A Multiple-Case Analysis of Implementing Lean in Higher Education. International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 32, 934-950.

[20]   Simons, N. (2013) The Business Case for Lean Six Sigma in Higher Education. ASQ Higher Education Brief, 6, 1-6.

[21]   Albliwi, S., Antony, J., Halim Lim, S.A. and Von Der Wiele, T. (2014) Critical Failure Factors of Lean Six Sigma: a Systematic Literature Review. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 31, 1012-1030.

[22]   Radnor, Z. and Bucci, G. (2011) Analysis of Lean Implementation in UK Business Schools Universities. A to Z Business Consultancy, 74 p.

[23]   Balzer, W.K. (2010) Lean Higher Education. Increasing the Value and Performance of University Processes. CRC Press, New York, 312 p.

[24]   Verma, A. and Crossman, G. (2006) An Assessment and Continuous Improvement Model for Engineering Technology Programs. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings American Society for Engineering Education, Chicago, June 2006, 11.172.2-11.176.11.

[25]   Steinlicht, C., Neary, A., LeBrun, T., Sauke, K., Sundermann, C. and Weber, J. (2010) Program Development Work in Progress: Value Stream Mapping the Educational Process Outcomes. Frontiers in Education Conference, Washington DC, 27-30 October 2010, T1H-1-T1H-2.

[26]   Emiliani, M.L. (2005) Using Kaizen to Improve Graduate Business School Degree Programs. Quality Assurance in Education, 13, 37-52.

[27]   Djassemi, M. (2006) A Lean Approach to Manage a Capstone Senior Project Course. ASEE/IEE Frontiers in Education Conference, San Diego, 27-31 October 2006, 1-6.

[28]   Doman, M.S. (2011) A New Lean Paradigm in Higher Education: a Case Study. Quality Assurance in Education, 19, 248-262.

[29]   Emiliani, M.L. (2004) Improving Business School Courses by Applying Lean Principles and Practices. Quality Assurance in Education, 12, 175-187.

[30]   Nuno, P., Lopez-Molina, M.G. and Reyes-Guerra, B. (2010) A Lean Management Model and a Case Study in Mexico. Proceedings of the 2010 Industrial Engineering Research Conference, Cancun, 6-9 June 2010, 1-6.

[31]   Simmons, D.R. and Young, G. (2014) Improving the Student Academic Experience through Lean Engineering Principles. Frontiers in Education Conference, 22-25 October 2014, 1-4.

[32]   Thirkell, E. and Ashman, I. (2014) Lean towards Learning: Connecting Lean Thinking and Human Resource Management in UK Higher Education. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25, 2957-2977.

[33]   Hines, P. and Lethbridge, S. (2008) New Development: Creating a Lean University. Public Money and Management, 28, 53-56.

[34]   Kettunen, J. (2011) External and Internal Quality Audits in Higher Education. The TQM Journal, 26, 518-528.

[35]   Kruger, D. (2015) Process Integration and Improvement in a Higher Education Institution in South Africa. Proceedings of PICMET’15: Management of the Technology Age, Portland, 2-6 August 2015, 1424-1432.

[36]   Kholopane, P. and Vandayar, C. (2014) Lean Application in Student Finance Department within a Learning Institution Can Lead to High Academic Throughput: A Case Study. Proceedings of PICMET’14: Infrastructure and Service Integration, Kanazawa, 27-31 July 2014, 988-994.

[37]   Sinha, P. and Mishra, N.M. (2013) Applying Lean Thinking to Higher Education— A Strategy for Academic Excellence. Indian Journal of Applied Research, 3, 1-4.

[38]   Burge III, L., Garuba, M. and Brent, C. (2004) Improving Retention of Minority Freshman in Engineering by Applying the Six Sigma Methodology. Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Technology: Coding and Computing, Las Vegas, 5-7 April 2004, 723-728.

[39]   Chow, T. and Downing, C. (2016) Adapting Six Sigma for Academia. ISE Magazine, 48, 24-29.

[40]   Hargrove, S.K. and Burge, L. (2002) Developing a Six Sigma Methodology for Improving Retention in Engineering Education. 32nd ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Boston, 6-9 November 2002, S3C-20-S3C-24.

[41]   Verma, A. (2008) Applying Six Sigma Methodology to the Admissions Process in Higher Education. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings, Pittsburgh, 22-25 June 2008, 13.215.1-13.215.13.

[42]   Kaushik, K. and Khanduja, D. (2010) Utilising Six Sigma for Improving Pass Percentage of Students: A Technical Institute Case Study. Educational Research and Review, 5, 471-483.

[43]   Prasad, K.G.D., Subbaiah, K.V. and Padmavathi, G. (2012) Application of Six Sigma Methodology in an Engineering Educational Institution. International Journal of Emerging Sciences, 2, 222-237.

[44]   Tenali, S., Ganti, R.S. and Taranikanth, K. (2015) Implementing Lean Six Sigma to Improve the Ratio of Admissions to Placements in an Academic Year: Statistical and Psychological Case Study of a Technical Institute. Proceedings of the 2015 International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management, Dubai, 3-5 March 2015, 1-12.

[45]   Zhao, L. (2011) China’s Higher Education Quality Management Based on Six-Sigma Management Principles. International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Management Science and Electronic Commerce, Deng Leng, 8-10 August 2011, 6559-6561.

[46]   Coowar, R., Furterer, S., Akinrefon, T., Battikhi, A., Ferreras, A., Gibson, K., Lakkoju, R. and Meza, K. (2006) Lean Six Sigma as an Improvement Tool in Academia. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings American Society for Engineering Education, Chicago, June 2006, 11.867.1-11.867.19.

[47]   Raifsnider, R. and Kurt, D. (2004) Lean Six Sigma in Higher Education: Applying Proven Methodologies to Improve Quality, Remove Waste, and Quantify Opportunities in Colleges and Universities. Xerox White Paper, 10 p.

[48]   Kanakana, M.G., Pretorius, J.H.C. and Van Wyk, B. (2010) Lean Six Sigma Framework to Improve Throughput Rate. 17th International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, Xiamen, 29-31 October 2010, 862-866.

[49]   Comm, C.L. and Mathaisel, D.F.X. (2005) An Exploratory Study of Best Lean Sustainability Practices in Higher Education. Quality Assurance in Education, 13, 227-240.

[50]   Ho, S.L., Xie, M. and Goh, T.N. (2006) Adopting Six Sigma in Higher Education: Some Issues and Challenges. International Journal of Six Sigma and Competitive Advantage, 2, 335-352.

[51]   Antony, J., Krishan, N., Cullen, D. and Kumar, M. (2012) Lean Six Sigma for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Challenges, Barriers, Success Factors, Tools/Techniques. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 61, 940-948.

[52]   Eagle, L. and Brennan, R. (2007) Are Students Customers? TQM and Marketing Perspectives. Quality Assurance in Education, 15, 44-60.

[53]   Houston, D. (2008) Rethinking Quality and Improvement in Higher Education. Quality Assurance in Education, 16, 61-79.

[54]   Thomas, A.J., Antony, J., Francis, M. and Fisher, R. (2015) A Comparative Study of Lean Implementation in Higher and Further Education Institutions in the UK. International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 32, 982-996.

[55]   Nalebuff, B. and Brandenburger, A. (1996) La Co-opétition. Une révolution dans la manière de jouer concurrence et coopération. Village Mondial, Paris, 306 p.

[56]   Porter, M.E. (1980) Competitive Strategy. Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors. Free Press, New York, 432 p.

[57]   Porter, M.E. (1985) Competitive Advantage. Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance. Free Press, New York, 557 p.

[58]   Wiklund, H., Klefsjö, B., Wiklund, P.S. and Edvardsson, B. (2003) Innovation and TQM in Swedish Higher Education Institutions—Possibilities and Pitfalls. The TQM Magazine, 15, 99-107.

[59]   Clayson, D.E. and Haley, D.A. (2005) Marketing Models in Education: Students as Customers, Products, or Partners. Marketing Education Review, 15, 1-10.

[60]   Sahney, S., Banwet, D.K. and Karunes, S. (2004) A SERVQUAL and QFD Approach to Total Quality Education. A Student Perspective. International Journal of Productive and Performance Management, 53, 143-166.

[61]   Cranfield, D.J. and Taylor, J. (2008) Knowledge Management and Higher Education: A UK Case Study. The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 6, 85-100.

[62]   El-Sayed, M., Zgorzelski, M., Berry, K.J. and Zang, P.H. (2005) Lean Thinking and Quality Control Strategies for Improving Engineering Educational Processes. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings American Society for Engineering Education, Portland, June 12-15 2005, 10.871.1-10.871.7.

[63]   Leclerc, C. and Bourassa, B. (2013) Travail professoral et santé psychologique. Centre de recherche et d’intervention sur l’éducation et la vie au travail. Université Laval, 278 p.

[64]   Bay, D. and Daniel, H. (2001) The Student Is Not the Customer—An Alternative Perspective. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 11, 1-19.

[65]   Voss, R., Gruber, T. and Szmigin, I. (2007) Service Quality in Higher Education: The Role of Student Expectations. Journal of Business Research, 60, 949-959.

[66]   Dew, J. (2009) Quality Issues in Higher Education. The Journal for Quality and Participation, 32, 4-9.