Six Sigma implementation in Ireland: the role of multinational firms
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Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine the intra-organisational diffusion of management innovations, taking Six Sigma as an example. Design/methodology/approach – The study focuses on Six Sigma implementation among companies operating in Ireland. It makes use of a theoretical framework, which posits that multinational firms act as a diffusion mechanism for Six Sigma. The analysis of Six Sigma implementation consists of an online survey to which 132 firms responded. Subsequently, a qualitative analysis of Six Sigma implementation was conducted through semi-structured interviews with 13 respondents. Findings – The results show that roughly half of respondent firms use Six Sigma. These firms are typically large US multinationals, which have used Six Sigma for at least three years. Intra-organisational diffusion does exist. Multinationals do act as a diffusion mechanism – with the adoption of Six Sigma at US headquarters level and then the diffusion of the practice internally to the Irish subsidiary and subsequently to suppliers and finally other local firms. However, the role of traditional diffusion mechanisms is also highlighted. Firms adopt Six Sigma in response to competitive pressure and for cost/efficiency reasons. Originality/value – The research shows how organisations influence one another in the implementation of Six Sigma as a management concept, and at the same time this can be seen as a specific example of the dissemination of management concepts in general.