Global study into the pros and cons of ISO 18404: a convergent mixed method study and recommendations for further research

Jiju Antony, Olivia McDermott, Michael Sony, Daryl Powell, Ronald Snee, Roger Wesley Hoerl

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Scopus citations


    Purpose: The paper aims to investigate the pros and cons of having a standard for lean six sigma developed in 2015. The study follows up on a previous study by Antony et al. (2021) in more depth and aims to provide a more detailed investigation of various aspects of the standard. Design/methodology/approach: A sequential mixed methodology was utilised by interviewing a panel of leading academics and practitioners familiar with lean six sigma followed by distributing a survey questionnaire to continuous improvement and operational excellence (OPEX) personnel. Findings: The findings indicate that continuous improvement and OPEX professionals have conflicting views of International Standards Organisation (ISO) 18404. A majority of the participants of the qualitative study suggested, whilst supporting the requirement for a lean sigma standard, voiced concerns about the auditability of the standard and whether it is currently “fit for purpose” and proposed that it needs to be revised. Within the quantitative survey, 42% had never heard of the standard, and of the 58% who had heard of it, 90% had read it. Just 10% stated that they had or would apply the standard within their organisations. Just fewer than 50% felt that the standard was fit for purpose which suggests for further refinements of the standard in the future. Finally, 85% of respondents of the quantitative survey suggested for the revision of the standard whilst just 15% felt it should be removed. Research limitations/implications: Other than a previous study by Antony et al. (2021), implementation of ISO 18404 in organisations and its benefits as well as empirical study looking into the impact of the standard on corporate performance in the literature were limited. An opportunity to review lessons learnt from a case study on the ISO 18404 standard implementation within an organisation would further enhance the research. Originality/value: The paper provides a valuable resource for organisations to obtain insight into a standard in lean six sigma and whether to implement it or not. Furthermore, the results can form the basis of a case for the future revision of the standard by consolidating and strengthening the findings from the first study with more detailed quantitative and qualitative study.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)517-541
    Number of pages25
    JournalInternational Journal of Quality and Reliability Management
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 25 Jan 2023


    • Continuous improvement
    • ISO 18404
    • Lean
    • Lean six sigma
    • Quality
    • Six sigma
    • Standards


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