Guiding principles of integrated management systems: Towards unifying a starting point for researchers and practitioners
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The Integrated Management System (IMS) seems to be a suitable strategy to manage multiple systems that have to meet the needs and expectations of various stakeholders. The main objective of this research is to establish the guiding principles of IMS and the essential elements for its development and maintenance in order to move towards unifying a starting point in the literature. This objective was reached through a systematic content analysis with focus on the content analysis of the most cited articles of Scopus and Web of Science databases from 2006 to 2016. The results indicate the existence of 28 elements for development and implementation of IMS. Through the critical analysis of these elements 6 principles of IMS were systematized: 1) Systemic Management; 2) Standardization; 3) Strategic, tactic and operational integration; 4) Organizational learning; 5) Debureaucratization; and 6) Continuous Improvement. Each principle is a pillar for development and maintenance of IMS. The scientific contribution of this study is that it represents a starting point towards the establishment of the IMS theory. Moreover, taking into account these results one can homogenize the basis of IMS, providing research results with a higher degree of comparability. The results of this work may also help company managers better target their efforts in the management of the IMS, serving as a guideline to assist them in developing and maintaining each one of the abovementioned pillars. The best of the authors’ knowledge, this is one of the first attempts to unify the literature.