Six sigma: A literature review

B. Tjahjono, P. Ball, V. I. Vitanov, C. Scorzafave, J. Nogueira, J. Calleja, M. Minguet, L. Narasimha, A. Rivas, A. Srivastava, S. Srivastava, A. Yadav

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

149 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of the work presented in this paper is to capture the current state of Six Sigma as well as to document the current practices of Six Sigma through a systematic literature review so as to extend and update the previous work of Brady and Allen. Design/methodology/approach - The approach to this paper is to answer the questions such as “what is Six Sigma?”, “what are the applications of the Six Sigma?”, “what are the main enablers and barriers to its application?” and “what are the emerging trends?” These questions are used to guide the search of papers from various publication databases even if it is expected that existing literature might not be sufficiently developed to translate each question directly into a finding. The literature is then analysed and the major emerging themes are presented. Findings - Seven key findings (topics on which the views of the authors converged) and two issues (topics on which authors had differing views) have been established. These include the interpretation of Six Sigma, tools and techniques, implementation of Six Sigma, benefits, adoption, enablers and links to other disciplines. Originality/value - The systematic literature review approach used in this paper allows emerging trends and issues in Six Sigma to be highlighted in a structured and thematic manner, enabling the future work to progress as Six Sigma continues to develop and evolve. The findings also open up new opportunities to apply Six Sigma in the fields that are not widely explored before for instance sustainability and product-service systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-233
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Lean Six Sigma
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Production processes
  • Six Sigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Science and Operations Research


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