Case Study

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Category: Business and Industry

Date Submitted: 03/17/2014 08:57 PM

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Effects of a production improvement programme on global quality performance: The case of the Volvo Production System

The case of the Volvo Production System

The Authors

Torbjørn H. Netland, Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway

Ebly Sanchez, Volvo AB, Gothenburg, Sweden


The authors want to acknowledge the input from Volvo plants around the world. The authors are also indebted to the essential contribution performed by all the employees in the VPS Academy who have performed the VPS assessments. Finally, the first author wants to thank the US – Norway Fulbright Foundation and the CRI Norman research project at the SINTEF Research Institute for financial support during this research.


Purpose – How can multinational companies become more productive on a global scale? The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether a production improvement programme can improve quality performance in a global network of factories. Specifically, the paper analyses the effects of the Volvo Group's production improvement programme on global quality performance.

Design/methodology/approach – The research approach is a case study of the Volvo Production System (VPS). The paper analyses the effects of the programme on global quality performance, using data from an implementation audit and a questionnaire survey. The paper triangulate the analysis with longitudinal quality performance data from three different plants.

Findings – The paper finds a significant and strong positive relationship between implementation of the VPS and improvements in both process quality and product quality. Hence, the paper suggests that tailored production improvement programmes have clear positive effects on global quality performance.

Research limitations/implications – As with all case studies, the paper should use caution when generalising beyond the specific case. However, the Volvo Group is a broad and...