Evaluating Quality Circles: The American Application

by Robert Wood, Frank Hull, Koya Azumi

Fall 1983

Volume 26
Issue 1

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In what represents a reversal in the flow of knowledge between the two countries, managers in U.S. organizations have begun to study and imitate the practices of their Japanese counterparts. The quality circles programs that exist in many Japanese organizations are being widely adopted in U.S. organizations. However, the high expectations and lack of planned evaluation for the quality circle programs in many U.S. organizations suggests that quality circles are already in the adoption-disappointment-discontinuation cycle that has been characteristic of many other managerial fads. The authors present several reasons why quality circles can lead to increases in the morale, motivation, productivity, and work quality of workers and suggest that the conventional wisdom, which sees them as either a form of job enrichment or a human relations technique, is ill-focused. The types of organizational settings in which quality circles are most likely to be effective are discussed and suggestions are made regarding the proper evaluation of quality circle programs.

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