A conceptual Lean Six Sigma framework for quality excellence in higher education institutions

Vijaya Sunder M, Jiju Antony

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    82 Scopus citations


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present the potent application of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) in higher education services and to suggest a conceptual framework of deploying LSS in the higher education institutions (HEIs). Design/methodology/approach: This paper aims to outline the importance of the quality excellence criterion in general through different constructs from the literature including TQM, Lean, Six Sigma and LSS. The paper further expands on the applicability of LSS in the HEI setting, with an understanding of HEI as comparatively different from the manufacturing sector from where LSS originated. The published literature on LSS and authors’ experience in the field of LSS (as practitioners) were used as sources for devising a conceptual framework for LSS deployment in HEIs. Findings: The key finding from the study is the confirmation of LSS applicability in HEIs. The study also confirms that LSS is not anyone’s job but a key part of leadership agenda. The six-staged conceptual framework prescribed for the HEIs as part of the paper is the key contribution of this study. The model describes that LSS readiness is the foremost step in the LSS deployment journey in HEIs. The strategic perspectives of aligning the organisational vision for quality excellence need to be achieved by establishing a need for LSS through leadership. Then, developing an LSS deployment strategy becomes the next step. Educating the appropriate stakeholders (students) and team formation becomes the next important steps in the LSS deployment. Once the above steps are implemented in right way, identifying and implementing LSS projects becomes critical. The execution and closure of the LSS projects leads to quality excellence in HEIs. Research limitations/implications: Since the framework prescribed here is a conceptual framework, it deserved a testing in the real-life context. This leaves an opportunity for future researchers to test and expand on the implications of the model. Though the LSS framework is customised for HEIs, the fundamental factors essential for any change management initiative holds correct for LSS as well, and hence these are not elaborated as part of this paper. Originality/value: This paper would serve as an excellent resource for both academicians and LSS practitioners in HEIs, for deployment. The framework presented here is the original work contributed by the authors, as the first of its kind in the academic literature relevant to LSS in HEIs.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)857-874
    Number of pages18
    JournalInternational Journal of Quality and Reliability Management
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 2018


    • Conceptual framework
    • HEIs
    • Higher education institutions
    • Lean Six Sigma (LSS)
    • Quality excellence


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