Managerial Practices that Support Lean and Socially Sustainable Working Conditions




Organization & management


Despite decades of using lean, there is little knowledge of how lean managerial practices affect working conditions. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate in what ways managerial practices support socially sustainable working conditions (SSWCs) during a lean transformation. A mixed methods approach was used in this multiyear case study in a midsize Swedish manufacturing company. Assessment of work characteristics was combined with employee questionnaires and interviews with managers. Four practices were identified as instrumental for SSWCs: 1) a coherent lean approach with clear direction, 2) a value-creating leadership style comprising a participatorypromoting and caring leadership approach with joint focus on production and well-being, 3) conscious involvement of employees in a stepwise fashion, and 4) a focus on promoting meaningful jobs and health, aided by work environment management. Thus, managerial practices actively supporting important job resources as an integral part of the lean system seemed to support SSWCs.

Author Biographies

Malin Håkansson, School of Technology & Health

 PhD-student, KTH-Royal Institute of Technology, mail:

Richard J. Holden, Indiana University

 Assistant professor, School of Informatics and Computing

Andrea Eriksson, School of Technology & Health

 Assistant professor, KTH-Royal Institute of Technology

Lotta Dellve, University of Gothenburg

 Professor, Department of Sociology and Work science




How to Cite

Håkansson, M., Holden, R. J., Eriksson, A., & Dellve, L. (2017). Managerial Practices that Support Lean and Socially Sustainable Working Conditions. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 7(3).