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The role of Kaizen in economic transformation

Working papers

Written by Alberto Lemma

Kaizen is a Japanese term that means ‘improvement’ and refers to a process of innovation in firms involving the entire workforce. It involves customer orientation, quality control, new product development, just-in-time, automation, cooperative employer–employee relationships, and so on. Kaizen is aimed at reducing inefficiencies, and support for it in Africa is provided in various forms and in a number of different countries.


There is little knowledge on the role of Kaizen within the more traditional donor support community, which is more familiar with approaches such as investment climate support or infrastructure financing. This report aims to set Kaizen in the context of the literature on productivity change and economic development and the different policy and donor activities that support productivity and economic transformation.

Alberto Lemma