Lean meeting buyer's expectations, enhanced supplier productivity and compliance capabilities in garment industry

Imranul Hoque*, Peter Hasle, Miguel Malek Maalouf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Purpose: Investigate the potential of using “lean” in garment supplier factories to enhance productivity and compliance capability, so as to fulfill a buyer's expectation of lower price, shorter lead time, and higher occupational health and safety (OHS) standards. Design/methodology/approach: By means of an intervention, lean tools integrated with OHS elements were introduced in four Bangladeshi key garment suppliers of a Danish buyer. By employing a qualitative approach, both quantitative and qualitative techniques were used to collect data on productivity, OHS, and buyer–supplier efforts. Findings: This study demonstrates that lean tools, integrated with OHS elements, can be used to improve the productivity and compliance capabilities of supplier firms, which meet a buyers' changing demands for lower prices, shorter lead times, and higher compliance standards. This study suggests that the improvement of productivity and OHS in supplier firms through lean implementation could be a better choice for buyers than switching to new suppliers with uncertainties in productivity and delivery, as well as OHS compliance problems. Practical implications: The findings of this study suggest that garment suppliers can benefit from implementing lean, thereby improving their capacity to meet buyers' expectations. Therefore, both suppliers and buyers have a mutual interest in the application of lean in suppliers' production facilities. Originality/value: By considering both buyer and supplier perspectives, this research is a unique attempt to investigate the possibilities of lean implementation at the shop-floor level to meet the market challenges in the context of a developing country.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Productivity and Performance Management
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1475-1494
Publication statusPublished - 3. Mar 2020


  • Buyer–supplier relationships
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Sustainability


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