Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Fazleena Badurdeen


Lean manufacturing has been embraced by many companies as a business model to promote operational excellence. However, a high percentage of lean implementation attempts have failed; many organizations have not been able to sustain continuous improvements to achieve lean transformations. This failure is often attributed to the sole focus on the hard-side (tools) of lean, at the expense of the soft side (culture). The majority of research exploring the cultural dimensions of lean either aims to increase awareness about culture or addresses it only in a cursory manner. To bridge this gap this study aims to identify and assess the requirements for operationalizing a culture conducive for lean transformations.

To achieve this objective the study first establishes a theoretical framework that reflects the process of developing a culture necessary for successful lean transformations. This is achieved through an in-depth examination of organizational culture theory and the practices within Toyota, as a viable culture of a company that has sustained lean transformation. Secondly, a fuzzy-integrated Agent-Based Modelling (ABM) is carried out to evaluate the interplay among the various factors identified in the theoretical framework, the influence on employee development in organizations, and their ability for problem solving. Finally, a visual tool is proposed to assess employees’ development of knowledge, skills, and attitude (KSAs) to engage in problem solving and enable facilitating the culture formation process established through the framework.

The proposed framework addresses the methodological implications of operationalizing culture, reinforcing that lean transformation requires a more profound change in an organization's culture and mindset to achieve sustainable improvements. The fuzzy-integrated ABM facilitated the formalization and detailed representation of the framework. The model-based approach explored in this study can be a valuable tool for designing targeted employee development programs that address the unique needs of employees in specific organizational contexts. The People Value Stream Mapping (People-VSM) methodology introduced presents an effective method to visually document employee development towards acquiring the required KSAs, vital to developing problem solving capabilities and operationalizing the culture required to sustain lean transformations.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Available for download on Friday, August 08, 2025