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Stress Fracture: Adverse Effects of Lean Initiatives

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Engineering Management: Supply Chain, Systems Thinking, and Lean Initiatives

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

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Paper Authors


Jonas Wullbrandt Technical University Braunschweig (Germany), Institute for Advanced Industrial Management

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Jonas Wullbrandt is a Research Assistant in the research group "Lean Production Systems" at the Institute for Advanced Industrial Management (IFU) at Technical University Braunschweig, Germany. He earned his B.S. in Industrial Engineering specializing in Mechanical Engineering from Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg, Germany and his M.S. in Engineering Management from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. His current research interests include future aspects of Lean Production Systems and Lean Management.

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Craig G Downing Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Craig G. Downing is Department Head and Associate Professor of Engineering Management at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. His teaching responsibilities are focused on delivering graduate-level

instruction related to Operations and Quality Systems. His interests are rooted in Academic-Industrial partnerships, Process Improvement, and Action Research in Engineering Management. Further, serves as one of the champions for leading the campus entrepreneurial initiatives. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt.

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In today’s highly competitive workplace, stress has become an important topic of interest due to its negative impacts on employee performance and health. As leaders attempt to create high performance and agile work environments, the importance of individual performance increases, which, in turn, relies on individual employees’ well-being (health). This paper investigates to what degree, if any, prospective Engineering Managers understand the relationship between the implementation and execution of Lean initiatives and increased levels of employee stress.

The literature review associated with this project indicates that Lean activities can cause increased stress among employees, despite the many overall organizational benefits. Further, the literature indicates leadership is an important element in the complex stress-employee construct. However, the quantitative data collection in this study reveals that students in the fields of engineering and management do not consider increased stress to be a potential outcome of implementing Lean projects. In addition, the analysis of the survey data identifies opportunities to assist Engineering Managers in effectively dealing with the negative effects caused by Lean activities.

Finally, the results are used to present recommendations for educational and managerial training, so leaders can develop better ability to address the important issue of employee stress in today’s high performing, quality-driven, organization.

Wullbrandt, J., & Downing, C. G. (2016, June), Stress Fracture: Adverse Effects of Lean Initiatives Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25890

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