Lean on me! A study of the inter-institutional incompatibility of management control systems in the public sector
Background and problem: There is an ongoing debate in today’s society about control systems developed in the private sector who are now also used in the public sector. One popular management control system adopted by the public sector is Lean. Lean has been criticized but it is still being implemented in many public organizations. A potential problem can arise when the horizontal Lean concept meets the vertical management control systems that are common in public organizations. Purpose: Our purpose with this thesis is to describe the potential conflict between Lean and vertical management in three public organizations. The concept of Lean can be experienced differently at different levels within organizations and this will be analyzed by using institutional theory. Delimitation: We chose to describe three different organizations. This decision to choose three organizations enable us to not make a general conclusion based on our findings, since the sample is not big enough. Method: We have written a qualitative thesis and we have interviewed two respondents in each of the three organizations that we studied; the interviews were conducted in a semi-structured way. The empirical material has been analyzed with the basis on the literature review. Conclusion: The respondents have not described any potential conflict between the horizontal Lean concept and the vertical management control system. This could be explained by using institutional theory, stating that the respondents are unwilling to see and explain potential conflicts.