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An investigation of the role of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) application for manufacturing and service SMEs to develop the regional powerhouse (SF18/BAM/SHOKRI)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Shokri
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

This project investigates the benefits, limitations, effectiveness and implications of establishing a business excellence strategy and tool amongst Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in relation to meeting the objectives of the development of the regional powerhouse. The research will integrate a process and business improvement strategy with micro and macro-economic measures in order to identify the feasibility of promoting such tools to develop a sustainable powerhouse in the economy. The research has both research and practical implications, since there is significant gap in research application on Lean Six Sigma (LSS) as a professional tool in SMEs, especially in Northern England. This research can also promote an integrated conceptual model or framework to enable developing powerhouse in developed or developing economies. This research potentially has also great practical implications to introduce a practical and sustainable systematic and data driven tool for SMEs to establish their position or their supplier’s and customer’s position to achieve sustainable powerhouse.

This research aims to investigate the relationship between the response to establishing a systematic business excellence tool and critical measures to develop powerhouse, as a newly developed strategic and economic framework.
The projected methodology involves both deductive and inductive approaches where the quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis will be conducted. While interview with key people involved in powerhouse development in northern England could generate the theoretical platform, the questionnaire survey will target the service and manufacturing SMEs in northern England to test the role of LSS in developing powerhouse. This is to test the developed theoretical platform, which is effectiveness of LSS towards promoting Powerhouse economy.

The finding of this research study could be generalised for any economy in developed and developing countries. This research project generates significant data and information for policy makers and business owners in the region that may be utilised for powerhouse development practices and strategies. The northern powerhouse is a current contemporary economic and business element in the UK and this research project would underline the practical and research implications in relation to moment of truth.

This research study has also a niche reach to the research and knowledge pool with a narrow emphasise on an integrated approach towards LSS, SMEs and economy. This approach is currently unique and original in research and knowledge development. Therefore, there is a great potential of providing novel and high ranking research outputs as the result of this research project. The review of statistical and technical approach of LSS in not in our research agenda for this research project, instead the strategic effectiveness of this tool will be investigated. Therefore, there is no need of prior technical knowledge or competence about LSS or statistics to do this research project.

It is expected that this research project would have a critical role in developing the Research Excellence Framework (REF), which is a critical research quality measurement tool for many academic institutions due to great level of research emphasise and impact case study. The social, managerial, environmental and economic impact could be addressed towards businesses, policy makers and local authorities.

The successful applicant will work within the cross-faculty, international Research & Innovation Staff Exchange ‘Global Entrepreneurial Talent Management 3’ project, funded to 950k euros by Horizon 2020 (European Commission). The aim of the project is the development of research capacity at individual, institutional and international levels.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF18/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self funded project and does not include fees


(Uhl, C. Nabhani, F. Shokri, A. Kauf, F. (2017), “Purchasing manages and optimises existing product variance”, Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, forthcoming
Uhl, C. Nabhani, F. Kauf, F. Shokri, A. and Hughes, D. (2017), “Purchasing Management: The optimisation of product variance”, Procedia Manufacturing, Vol. 11, pp. 1366-1374.
Shokri, A. (2017), "Quantitative analysis of Six Sigma, Lean and Lean Six Sigma research publications in last two decades", International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, Vol. 34 No. 5, pp. 598-625.
Shokri, A. Waring, T. and Nabhani, F. (2016), “Investigating the readiness of people in manufacturing SMEs to embark on Lean Six Sigma projects: An empirical study in the German manufacturing sector”, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Vol. 36 No. 8, pp.850-878.
Shokri, A. and Nabhani, F. (2015), “LSS, a problem solving skill for graduates and SMEs: Case Study of investigation in a UK Business School curriculum”, International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 176-202.
Shokri, A. Oglethorpe, D. Nabhani, F. (2014), “Evaluation of sustainability in the UK fast Food Supply Chain”, Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 25 No. 8, pp. 1224-1244.
Shokri, A. Oglethorpe, D. Nabhani, F. (2014), “Application of Six Sigma in food distribution SME to improve logistical measures”, Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 25 No. 7, pp. 998-1027.
Shokri, A. Nabhani, F. Hodgson, S. (2010), “Supplier Development in a food Supply Chain through Six Sigma”, Robotics & Computer Integrated Manufacturing Journal, Vol. 26, pp 639 – 646.
Shokri, A. Nabhani, F. (2009), “Reducing lead time in a food distribution SME thorough simplified version of Six Sigma methodology”, Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management; Vol. 20, No. 7; pp 957-974.

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