Taxing times: lean working and the creation of (in)efficiencies in HM Revenue and Customs

CARTER, B, DANFORD, A, HOWCROFT, D, RICHARDSON, Helen, SMITH, A and TAYLOR, P (2013). Taxing times: lean working and the creation of (in)efficiencies in HM Revenue and Customs. Public Administration, 91 (1), 83-97.

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Link to published version:: 10.1111/j.1467-9299.2012.02073.x


The prevailing economic and budgetary climate is intensifying the search formethods and practices aimed at generating efficiencies in public sector provision. This paper investigates the increasinglyd popular bundle of techniques operating under the generic descriptor of lean, which promises to improve operational quality processes while simultaneously reducing cost. It offers a critical appraisal of lean as a fashionable component of public sector reform and challenges the received wisdom that it unambiguously delivers ‘efficiencies’. Quantitative and qualitative research in HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) centred on employees’ experiences has indicated the extent to which work has been reorganized along lean principles. However, employees perceive that changes in organizational processes and working practices have unintentionally generated inefficiencies which have impacted on the quality of public service. These suggested outcomes raise wider concerns as lean working is adopted in other public sector organizations.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Business School Research Institute > People, Work and Organisation
Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1467-9299.2012.02073.x
Depositing User: Helen Richardson
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2013 13:05
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2014 14:47

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