|Chapter title||Knowledge Diffusion in Management: Kaizen in Sub-Saharan Africa|
Since the 1980s, Kaizen – i.e. the Japanese managerial strategy that stands, in a nutshell, for continuous improvement – has attracted considerable interest in advanced economies of the West. Due to its putative ability to increase product (or service) quality, productivity, employee participation and motivation, as well as by being able to minimise production costs and resource wastage in both manufacturing and service sectors, Kaizen is increasingly being seen as a promising strategy for organisations operating in ‘bottom-of-the-pyramid’ contexts, particularly in developing countries. This is also illustrated by the existence of a rapidly growing number of studies on Kaizen in developing countries. However, despite its growing popularity in the domains of academia, business, and policy, we still have very little knowledge about the actual processes and channels through which the Kaizen strategy travelled from the advanced economies – in particular Japan – to the developing world. To find out more about the diffusion of Kaizen – in particular, which actors, institutions and local processes are involved in the dissemination of Kaizen in developing countries, this chapter analyses the impact of scientific knowledge on Kaizen in 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our analysis confirms that the scholarly interest on Kaizen in Sub-Saharan Africa has soared since the late 2000s. It also identifies a geographically-uneven and country-specific process of knowledge diffusion and adaptation, in particular being mostly concentrated in a few countries (e.g. South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia). While this finding can be linked to the presence and activities of Japan-affiliated organisations (e.g., Kaizen institutes), it also implies that there may exist favourable adaptation institutional conditions in some Sub-Saharan countries but not in many others. Given the socioeconomic benefits derived from the adoption of the Kaizen strategy, especially for small firms and micro-enterprises, this leaves plenty of room for participatory policy action in Sub-Saharan countries that have yet to adopt the Kaizen strategy.
|Keywords||Knowledge Diffusion, Kaizen, Management, Africa|
|Book title||Firms, Institutions, and the State in East Asia|
|Place of publication||Marburg|