Applications of Operational Excellence Practices in Indian contexts

Guest editors

Prof. Vijaya Sunder M

Submissions deadline: 30th June 2022


Operational Excellence is executing a business/operations strategy more consistently and reliably than the competition to deliver a bottom-line impact. Put differently, Operational Excellence deals with strategy execution that primarily aims to accomplish cost leadership (Treacy and Wiersema, 1993). Research indicates that operationally excellent firms strive to achieve a combination of quality, dependability, flexibility (speed), and cost efficiency towards establishing competitive advantages (Rosenzweig and Roth, 2004).

Enterprises in pursuit of Operational Excellence improve their operational processes systematically and invest in developing the continuous improvement culture. There is rich research evidence of manufacturing and service sector firms that have adopted various Operational Excellence practices (primarily, Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, Industry 4.0, Kaizen, Agile, etc.). Alongside the practitioner communities, reputed academic circles like Production and Operations Management Society (POMS), Decision Sciences Institute (DSI), etc., have recognized value in the concept of Operational Excellence. Additionally, in a recent book entitled "Ten Commandments of Lean Six Sigma," authors (Jiju Antony, Vijaya Sunder M, Chad Laux and Elizabeth Cudney) have reinforced the need for future research in this area.

While the research output in this important field has been phenomenal across all parts of the world, publications and industrial applications within the context of India have been significantly high (Dave & Sohani, 2019; Parmar and Desai, 2019; Sunder M et al., 2018; Albliwi et al., 2015). India stands on the top among the contributing countries to IJLSS (Puram and Gurumurthy, 2021). This growing pace of Operational Excellence publications in the Indian context calls for an opportunity to assess the applications of these practices via this special issue. Further, the Indian sub-continent serves as a global hub for manufacturing and outsourced services, which heavily relies on Operational Excellence practices for organizational benefits. Thus, examining the current state of Operational Excellence in the Indian-sub continent sets the agenda for this special issue.

The originality of the special issue will emerge from the novel contributions that revolve around the "applications" of Operational Excellence practices. Alongside academic circles, this special issue would serve practitioner communities in both manufacturing and service sectors as a resource for improving their organizational landscape towards creating competitive advantage via Operational Excellence strategy.

Aims and scope

This issue will assess the current status of Operational Excellence practices (primarily, Lean, Six Sigma, Industry 4.0, Kaizen, Agile, etc.,) in the Indian context. Particularly, the scope of this special issue is restricted to industrial applications of Operational Excellence practices in manufacturing and service sector firms within India. Other countries in the Indian sub-continent that include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are also welcome. The contributing authors can be from any part of the world, but the manuscripts' scope and context should be around the Indian sub-continent.

Specifically, this special issue will aim to:

1. Explore synergies of technological interventions (Industry 4.0) with traditional operational excellence practices like Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, Kaizen, and Agile to create novel models and frameworks.

2. Examine the current state of Operational Excellence and associated challenges and barriers in various sectors - manufacturing, services, and others within Indian contexts.

3. Assessing the role of various management functional units like human resources, strategy, marketing, finance, accounting, etc., in deploying operational excellence practices in Indian firms.

Manuscripts that portray research evidence that contemporary technologies could create synergies with Lean and (or) Six Sigma will be given preference as the guest editor believes that such an integrative approach will open doors for new research agendas.

We welcome research papers that adopt a variety of methodologies for empirical and theoretical submissions. Specifically, empirical methods-based submissions are restricted to surveys (questionnaires, interviews, focus groups) and field studies/ intervention-based studies (case study, action research, design science). While theory-building papers will be considered, they should be built on logical arguments supported by evidence of "application".

Indicative list of themes

An indicative list of themes is presented below (within the context of India):

1. Synergies of Lean and (or) Six Sigma with Industry 4.0 technologies

2. Assessments of various Operational Excellence practices' readiness, deployments, barriers, sustainability aspects, etc.

3. Technical and behavioral challenges in with Operational Excellence practices and realizing intended benefits

4. Role of various organizational functions like human resources, strategy, marketing, finance, accounting, etc. in deploying Operational Excellence practices

5. Frameworks for value creation highlighting the role of Operational Excellence

6. Success and failure stories of companies that have deployed Operational Excellence practices.

7. Creation of business models supporting Operational Excellence deployments

8. Role of Project Management in Operational Excellence

9. Comparative studies that portray the current state of Operational Excellence in the Indian context compared to other parts of the world.

10. Contemporary technological interventions (using the Internet of things, cloud computing, virtual/augmented reality, robotics process automation, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, big data, analytics, block-chain, etc.) to create operational excellence capability in firms.

The topics not listed here but relevant to the context can also be considered.

Submission and review process

Submissions deadline: 30th June 2022.

The guest editor will review all submissions, and those that deem fit within the aims and scope of the special issue would be sent to independent experts for double-blind referee review. Based on the expert reviewers and associated feedback, the guest editor may decide to accept, request minor or major revisions, or decline the manuscript.

Submissions are to be made through the IJLSS ScholarOne manuscript submission portal Please ensure to select the special issue "Applications of Operational Excellence Practices in Indian contexts" while submitting. Please consult the author guidelines prior to submission, which are found here.


Albliwi, S. A., Antony, J., & Halim Lim, S. A. (2015). A systematic review of Lean Six Sigma for the manufacturing industry. Business Process Management Journal. 21(3), pp. 665-691

Dave, Y., & Sohani, N. (2019). Improving productivity through Lean practices in central India-based manufacturing industries. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma. (ahead of print). 10.1108/IJLSS-10-2017-0115/full/html

Parmar, P. S., & Desai, T. N. (2019). A systematic literature review on Sustainable Lean Six Sigma: Current status and future research directions. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma. 11(3), pp. 429-461.

Puram, P., & Gurumurthy, A. (2021). Celebrating a decade of International Journal of Lean Six Sigma–a bibliometric analysis to uncover the "as is" and "to be" states. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma. (ahead of print).

Rosenzweig, E. D., & Roth, A. V. (2004). Towards a theory of competitive progression: evidence from high‐tech manufacturing. Production and Operations Management, 13(4), 354-368.

Sunder M, V., Ganesh, L. S., & Marathe, R. R. (2018). A morphological analysis of research literature on Lean Six Sigma for services. International Journal of Operations & Production Management. 38(1), pp. 149-182.

Treacy, M., & Wiersema, F. (1993). Customer intimacy and other value disciplines. Harvard business review, 71(1), 84-93.

Special issue editor

Prof. Vijaya Sunder M is currently an Assistant Professor at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India. In the past, he was the Head of Business Process Excellence at the World Bank Group. Vijaya holds a Ph.D. in Operational Excellence from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras. He is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, PMP, ISO 9001:2015 Quality Lead Auditor, and Lean Facilitator, with about 15 years of industry experience. His research and teaching interests include Operational Excellence, Project Management, Continuous Improvement, Quality Management, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, and Industry 4.0.

Vijaya has authored two books and published more than 40 research papers in several reputed outlets, including the International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Technovation, International Journal of Production Research, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, and Journal of Business Research, Technological Forecasting & Social Change etc. Teaching case studies authored by him have been published in Harvard Business Education Publishing. Prof. Sunder M has been serving as the editorial advisory board member of the International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, since 2018. He actively writes in national and international media, including Forbes, Fortune, The Business Times Singapore, Outlook India, Quint, The New Indian Express, The Hindu, The Hindu Business Line, and The Future Factory.

He has recently been recognized with Walter E. Masing Book Award 2020 for his book Ten Commandments of Lean Six Sigma by Emerald Publishing and honored as a thought leader in the global quality management community by the International Academy for Quality. His other book, Lean Six Sigma in Banking Services, has received several appreciations from recognized quality management practitioners in the industry. He has been bestowed with the Highly Commended Paper Award 2017 and Outstanding Reviewer Award 2018 by Emerald Publishing (Emerald Literati Awards for Excellence). Further, he was conferred with the Best Researcher Award (IITM Institute Research Award for highest quality and quantity of research productivity) by IIT Madras in 2018, Bharat Vikas Award 2019 (for outstanding contributions in the field of Quality Management) by the Institute of Self-Reliance, approved by Human Resources Development Ministry, Government of India. Recently, the Indian School of Business recognized Prof. Sunder M as the Professor of the Year 2021.