Lean Six Sigma leadership in higher education institutions

Jing Lu, Chad Laux*, Jiju Antony

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate whether a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) leadership model could be effectively utilized to resolve efficiency and effective issues like rising costs, quality of education, graduation and retention rates encountered in higher education institutions (HEIs) in the modern era. Design/methodology/approach: The authors systematically reviewed the literature on key concepts of LSS and leadership in HEIs in to develop a theoretical model using an inductive theory-building approach in accordance with the exploratory nature of the study. Findings: The results of the study proposed a conceptual LSS leadership framework, which provides a basis for testing of LSS leadership representations in HEIs. The results suggest that LSS leadership has advantages for HEI to overcome currents issues and challenges. Research limitations/implications: This research is a theoretical study based on the existing literature that identified characteristics that may be adopted in higher education. The proposed LSS leadership framework is based upon leadership, statistical thinking, continuous change and improvement. This model is based upon service and the concepts of adaptive, rather than technical work, of leaders in higher education. Practical implications: The proposed LSS leadership framework brings new aspects and perspectives of leadership in HEIs. LSS leadership model has its practical meaning in providing a fundamental base for HEIs to overcome challenges, fulfill missions, and sustain improvements. Social implications: HEIs are a foundation for principles of democracy, equality and diversity. HEIs have been a path for citizens but HEIs are facing challenges that are reducing the ability of individuals to improve themselves. Leadership of HEI needs to incorporate new principles to adapt to a changing society. Originality/value: LSS project leaders have achieved improved bottom line results and customer satisfaction in a wide range of industries, but LSS application in the HEIs remains to be explored. This paper proposes an effective LSS leadership model, which can help improve the quality of education, reduce non-value added costs and enhance operational efficiency of HEIs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-650
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Productivity and Performance Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2017


  • Higher education
  • Leadership
  • Lean Six Sigma
  • Public sector organizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Lean Six Sigma leadership in higher education institutions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this