A study of knowledge flow in Six Sigma teams in a Chinese manufacturing enterprise

Michael Stankosky, Francesco A. Calabrese, T. Zou, Wing Bun Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – Six Sigma teams are special types of quality improvement teams which originated in the USA in the 1980s and later became popular in manufacturing enterprises worldwide. One dilemma for this type of teams is that they have to generate innovative solutions to solve urgent problems, while they are strictly bound by the rigorous Six Sigma approach. Another important issue is that Six Sigma is a typical western concept and the philosophy behind it contradicts some of the traditional Chinese values. This study seeks to examine the knowledge flow in Six Sigma teams in order to understand how the teams accommodate these conflicts. Design/methodology/approach – The study applies a case study methodology and uses a combination of storytelling and follow-up interviews. Findings – The results show that Six Sigma teams go through a cycle from transforming the external input into technical knowledge, practical knowledge and finally critical knowledge to create opportunities for improvement. Another finding is that the teams are influenced by both the western philosophy, for example, favouring analytical data, and Chinese values, for example, relying on input from the senior management and apprenticeship mode of learning. Originality/value – By incorporating cultural elements into the relevant literature of Six Sigma, this study gives an insight into the influence of the cultural factors from both the west and the east on the knowledge flow of Chinese Six Sigma teams in a manufacturing enterprise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-403
Number of pages374
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2010


  • China
  • Culture
  • Knowledge management
  • Six Sigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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