Quality, Participation, and Competitiveness

by Robert Cole, Paul Bacdayan, B. White



American managers have been slow to embrace employee involvement, because the American tradition of employee involvement has not convincingly linked participation with business results. In contrast, the Japanese have incorporated extensive participation into the modern quality paradigm. Their approach, which focuses participation on the improvement of production processes, can attract managerial support for participation by framing it as an avenue to increased competitiveness. The modern quality paradigm's principle of "market-in" de-emphasizes buffering in favor of exposing organization members to market information and pressures. Market-in builds widespread support for participation by highlighting important connections with organizational performance. Combining participation with quality can thus overcome major weaknesses of the participation tradition by linking participation to business results.

California Management Review

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Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

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