Zoe Radnor

  • Tuesday 21 November 2017
  • 6.30pm-7.30pm
  • George Davies Centre, Lecture Theatre 1

We don’t make cars, do we?: Understanding how manufacturing techniques are (not) relevant to public services

Lean - or the Toyota Production System (TPS) as it was originally known - emerged out of a highly specific context; automotive manufacturing, from one country and one specific company. A plethora of management tools, techniques and theories have made the sometimes arduous journey from their origins in the private sector to the public or voluntary sectors but lean remains one of the most intriguing. Simple to understand, yet simultaneously complex to implement; highly specific, yet the fundamental concepts seem eminently translatable to wider contexts. It is these tensions and contradictions that make the study of lean, particularly in public sector services, so thought-provoking. 

Lean has become a popular approach to public service reform. In the current era of reduced public spending it promises to maintain service productivity, improve utilisation and maintain quality. This lecture will draw on extensive research carried out over nearly 20 years across government, education and health to explore the implementation of lean to date. Based on extensive research a ‘House of Lean’ for public services will be presented which emphasises the importance of organisational readiness factors, including the importance of leadership engagement, understanding demand and co-production. Beyond this I will argue that lean can only really achieve its potential when based within public service logic. 

Along the way we also chat about bicycles, cats and theme parks… so come along with an open mind, sit back and enjoy the ride!

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Professor Zoe Radnor

Professor Zoe Radnor is Dean, School of Business and Professor of Service Operations Management at University of Leicester, UK.  The School has nearly 200 members of staff and over 5,500 students.

She started her academic career at the University of Leeds in 1994 as ESRC Management Teaching Fellow. She joined Warwick Business School in 2003 as Lecturer in Operations Management, and was promoted to Reader before joining Cardiff Business School as Professor of Operations Management and Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning in 2011. More recently she has been Co-director of the research Centre for Service Management and Associate Dean Teaching for the Loughborough University, London campus.

She has also worked at Manchester and Bradford universities. During her career she has won awards for both her research and her teaching.  She was awarded degrees by Nottingham University and Cranfield Institute of Technology before completing her PhD in Management Science at UMIST.

Professor Radnor has been a Management Practice Advanced Institute of Management (AIM) Fellow considering sustainability of Lean in public services. She was chair of the British Academy of Management (BAM) in 2013/14 and has and continues to sit on a number of advisory boards for Government and Healthcare organisations.  She is currently a council member for the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS).

Her main areas of interest are in process improvement and service management in public sector organisations.  She has published over 100 journal articles, conference papers, book chapters and reports as well as presented widely on the topic to both academic and practitioner audiences.

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