McDonough School of Business
News Story

Kasra Ferdows Receives Shingo Research Award

Kasra Ferdows, Heisley Family Chair of Global Manufacturing at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, received the 2020 Shingo Research Award for his research on the S-​curve theory of lean implementation. The award honors research and writing that has significantly impacted and advanced the body of knowledge on operational excellence. Torbjørn Netland, professor of production and operations management at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, is co-author in both articles. 

“What distinguishes this very important research is that instead of starting from secondary literature and theory as many researchers do, the authors genuinely engage with and observe lean practice as it evolves over time in a leading organization,” said Daniel T. Jones, founder and chairman, Lean Enterprise Academy, and author of The Machine that Changed the World and Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation.

Ferdows and Netland conducted an in-depth investigation of the Volvo Production System in 67 factories of AB Volvo. In doing so, their research institutes a fundamental contribution to the practical and theoretical understanding of lean, following an “S-shaped” pattern and associated with four stages of implementation maturity. It is the first in its kind to test empirically the pattern of performance improvement that is to be expected when deploying an operational excellence program. Their groundbreaking research was initially published in 2014 in MIT Sloan Management Review, and in 2016 in Production and Operations Management published a longer version of the article.

“Torbjorn and I have been very impressed by the review process for this award,” said Ferdows. “The judges are clearly among the most reputable and leading experts in the field. It is remarkable to see the time and care that they have put into this review. It is really a great honor to have our work examined by such a distinguished group and receive their positive vote and generous comments.” 

The Shingo Institute, based at Utah State University, is the world’s most renowned institute honoring individuals and organizations whose achievements have made great strides in the study of operational excellence. Most interested in recognizing thought leadership, it is named after the Japanese quality guru Dr. Shigeo Shingo.