Three decades of continuous improvement.
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The aim of this study is to provide a literature review on continuous improvement analysing the evolution of the field by combining quantitative and qualitative analysis. More than 1,000 articles have been reviewed. The articles have been collected through the prestigious database Web of Knowledge (Thomson Scientific). The results show an increasing interest in the field of continuous improvement over the past 30 years. The most discussed topics have been “implementation of continuous improvement systems” and “methodologies”. Other findings from the study are: the existence of regional differences in research on continuous improvement, the predominance of the case study and the survey as research methodologies, and the positioning of Total Quality Management and Business Excellence as the lead scientific publication in continuous improvement areas. The present review adds value to other studies on the same topic due to number of items used (1090), the time period covered (1980-2011), the prestigious database used (Web of Knowledge) and the combination of different analysis (quantitative and qualitative).
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