Can Lean Thinking enhance research administration?

Arja Halkoaho, Emmi Itkonen, Esko Vanninen, Jori Reijula


Background: Hospital research administration is expected to provide improved work efficiency and service delivery in the upcoming years. Meanwhile, resources to support scientific research are dwindling, as is the amount of research support personnel. The aim of the study was to investigate the research admission’s user needs, their opinions on the state of today’s scientific research and also to assess its future development needs and find out whether a customer-oriented management philosophy such as Lean Thinking could be implemented in the research administration setting to enhance work processes and services.

Methods: In this study, thematic interviews were used as a method. Kuopio University Hospital researchers (n = 7) and research administration personnel (n = 11) were interviewed. The interviews were carried out by one researcher and lasted on average approximately 60 minutes per interviewee.

Results: The interviews revealed that several issues, such as bureaucracy, decreased attitudes towards research, lack of transparency and face-to-face customer service by the research administration, have hindered and complicated research work and service delivery. The study addressed a need for a comprehensive, linear, efficiency- and quality-oriented, user-focused management philosophy.

Conclusions: The results of the study support implementation of a customer-oriented management philosophy into the research administration to improve its work processes and service delivery. Although Lean Thinking remains untested
in the research administration setting, its fundamentals and strengths seem to answer many needs of the research administration.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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