Sustainability through operational excellence: an emerging country perspective
Operational excellence is directly related to improving performance and efficiency in every dimension of sustainability (i.e., economic, environmental and social). Consequently, companies are implementing this initiative to remain competitive in their industries. Previous works measured operational excellence in first-world companies. However, it is expected that the productivity level in many companies from developing or emerging countries is far below the average level of developed companies. In this context, the research objectives of this study are to (1) evaluate the level of implementation of operational excellence, impacting the three dimensions of sustainability simultaneously in some companies from the central-savanna region of Colombia; (2) compare their implementation status with similar studies carried out in companies of developed countries. In order to solve it, we first present an empirical assessment of operational excellence in that region using semistructured interviews in 79 different companies. Then, we compare the obtained results with the assessments available in the literature. Our results show that operational excellence performance in Colombian companies is lower than in developed companies in terms of economic performance by operations standards and continuous improvement schemes, environmental sustainability and social sustainability.