Purpose: This article explores the themes and gaps around the embedding of continuous improvement (CI) methodologies within public sector organisations and in particular the emergency services.
Design/methodology/approach: The article is structured around three case studies of national emergency service organisations in Scotland, UK, and is based on 23 interviews with executive members of these organisations as well as of their oversight and inspection bodies and staff associations or unions.
Findings: The findings narrow the gaps in the existing literature around the more holistic and organisation wide approaches to CI and evidence internal challenges around shared understanding, explicit commitment to CI through executive leaders and corporate documents as well as a need for a broader organisational culture of trust and empowerment in order to sustain CI.
Practical implications: The research identifies clear priorities for sustaining CI within the emergency services as well as the opportunities and challenges to doing so. These inform internal CI activities as well as intra-agency development and external influences such as the role of government.
Originality/value: While leadership is long established as a critical success factor in the success of CI initiatives, this is the first research to explore and analyse the existing understanding and commitment of executive leaders in emergency services.
- Continuous improvement
- Public sector
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Safety Research
- Management Science and Operations Research