Lean in the Danish Armed Forces: A cultural analysis of the Danish Armed Forces in relation to a Lean implementation

Jan Jørgensen

Student thesis: Diploma thesis


The paper examines the cultural compatibility between Lean and the Danish Armed Forces. This is done in order to find explanatory elements, rooted in the organisational culture, as to why Lean implementation within the organisation through the last 9 years has only been partly successful. With this fundamental concern, the following question is sought to be answered: How does the culture within the Danish Armed Forces fit with that of Lean? Through the use of the Competing Value Framework as the theoretical framework for the analysis, and through the use of both text analysis and a comparative case study, the paper examines the culture within the organisation and seeks to define the culture which is best suited for a successful Lean implementation in a Danish military context. The research approach in the paper is equally focused on: 1) A strategic level – presented by organisational documents defining the overall strategy, managerial approach for the organisation and the curriculum presented to the organisation’s new managers, 2) An operational level – presented by the cultural case study of different departments within the Danish Armed Forces, all working with Lean, with varying degrees of success. On the strategic level, no direct hindrance was found in regard to cultural compatibility between that of Lean and the Danish Armed Forces. It is found that no clear path was laid out in respect to the organisation’s managerial approach, nor in the education and training of the managers within the organisation. Consequently, no higher managerial support for the implementation in respect to the organisational culture was found either. In the case study of different departments with varying degrees of success with the Lean implementation, connections between Lean’s success and organisational culture were found. It was found that departments with a focus on stability and control have the greatest implementation success rate in relation to Lean. This despite an employee desire for a more flexible and externally orientated culture. However, to ensure lasting implementation it is found that the departments have to enact a cultural transition towards a more flexible and externally focused culture than they have at present. Combining the findings, it was found that the ideal culture for the Lean implementation within a Danish Armed Forces context could be described as being focused on flexibility and the freedom to act and an internal focus within the organisation. Therefore, by having departments actively working with Lean all being culturally dominated by a focus internally and on integration as well as on stability and control, it is found that the current organisational culture within the Danish Armed Forces is not fully aligned with that of Lean. It is found that actions should be taken in order to adapt the culture to a more Lean-compatible culture in order to ensure lasting implementation success.

EducationsGraduate Diploma in Supply Chain Management, (Diploma Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages121