Lean production in agribusiness organizations: multiple case studies in a developing country
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Purpose - This paper aims to conduct case studies in companies of different branches of the agribusiness sector to analyze the degree of adherence to lean production system, considering the use of techniques and tools, and how the specificities of the agribusiness system work. Design/methodology/approach - By contributing to the refinement of the theory, multiple type case studies were conducted in eight agribusiness units from different branches by applying structured interviews, on-site visits and document analysis. The comparative analysis of the cases occurred focusing on the degree of adherence to lean production system; use of techniques and tools; and influence of the specificities of agribusiness systems. Findings - The adoption of lean production system occurs as an improvement mechanism of organizational performance. However, it is necessary to advance in the formalization of the actions, which need to encourage the creation of new leaders who spread the organizational philosophy. When comparing the degree of adherence to lean production with the use of techniques and tools, it was observed that there is no direct relationship, indicating that each organization should select only the techniques and tools that will improve their own organizational performance. At last, the specific characteristics of seasonality of consumption, quality and health surveillance and sociological aspects of the food have high influence on surveyed agribusiness systems, and its effects can be minimized by the techniques and tools associated with lean production system. Research limitations/implications - The analysis is valid for the universe investigated due to the specific characteristic of the case study. Originality/value - The literature regarding the lean production philosophy is vast; however, the agribusiness segment, one of the major sectors of the global economy, features a large gap in literature. This study is one of the first original papers to report this reality.