Original Research

The impact of Kaizen: Assessing the intensive Kaizen training of auto-parts suppliers in South Africa

Keijiro Otsuka, Nkumbuzi Ben-Mazwi
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 25, No 1 | a4093 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v25i1.4093 | © 2022 Keijiro Otsuka, Nkumbuzi Ben-Mazwi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 March 2021 | Published: 18 January 2022

About the author(s)

Keijiro Otsuka, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University, Kobe, Japan; and, Institute of Developing Economies, Chiba, Japan
Nkumbuzi Ben-Mazwi, Strategic Projects, NAAMSA (National Association of Automobile Business Council), Pretoria, South Africa

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Background: There has been a growing recognition that the most critical missing factor impeding the growth and productivity of manufacturing enterprises in developing countries is entrepreneurs with strong managerial abilities. As Kaizen requires strong communication and cooperation between managers and shop-floor workers, social cohesion between them seems to be a prerequisite for its successful implementation.

Aim: The question arises whether Kaizen can improve efficiency in management in a place like South Africa, a country marked by serious ethnic divisions. Therefore, the aim in this study is to assess the impact of an intensive Kaizen training programme in South Africa.

Setting: So an intensive Kaizen training programme was implemented at eight randomly selected automotive parts-suppliers in the three key automotive regions in South Africa from 2016 to 2019.

Method: A combination of a standard survey questionnaire and informal interviews was used to collect the production and management data. Given our relatively small sample size, the analysis is descriptive in nature.

Results: Evidence shows that Kaizen, a Japanese management system, is indeed effective in improving the performance of enterprises in developing countries.

Conclusion: The Kaizen method proves to be so successful in improving efficiency in South Africa that it justifies scaling up such a training programme in the future.


Kaizen; managerial ability; management training; enterprise performance; automotive industry; auto-parts industry; social cohesion; South Africa


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