One of the principal goals of Western firms in the last few decades has been to improve competitiveness through continual incremental improvement. Within these spheres, continuous improvement, based on the active participation of a company’s entire workforce, has been established as a powerful tool to achieve competitive advantages. There is ample documentation of companies’ successful implementation of the tools for continuous improvement and many authors have worked towards identifying all of the barriers impeding the sustainability of continuous improvement. Nevertheless, continuous improvement must be furthered in Spain, above all among small and medium-sized enterprises. Even in the automotive sector, continuous improvement still finds itself in a fledgling state and, in many cases, lacking strategic orientation. This study aims to extend the literature about enablers and inhibitors in continuous improvement. For that reason, some interviews were conducted with first tier suppliers in the automotive industry that have succeeded or failed in implementing continuous improvement, with the aim to identify and prioritise enablers and inhibitors.
Keywords: continuous improvement, enabler, inhibitor, sustainability