Summary by Michele Martinez
Ph.D. Program in Accounting
University of South Florida, Spring 2002
In organizations, the areas of planning and control have largely relied on the provisions of periodic, aggregated financial information as dictated by managers and external reporting requirements. However, during the past decade many firms have reorganized their approaches to manufacturing operations necessitating changes in their control systems. Consequently, many firms have adopted just-in-time (JIT) production, total quality management (TQM), and teamwork practices for their manufacturing operations. Accordingly, these new manufacturing practices rely on increased worker involvement in the control of all phases of manufacturing, with the expectation that such involvement will result in the identification of opportunities for process innovations and manufacturing performance improvements. Thus, manufacturing performance information needs to be reported to shop floor personnel so they can be relied upon for ways to improve productivity and process quality. Successful implementation of these practices requires workers to identify ways to improve the manufacturing process, reduce defects, and ensure that the manufacturing operations run smoothly.
As stated by the authors’ the central theme and purpose of this study is the adoption of the new manufacturing practices for manufacturing operations, which necessitates changes in performance reporting and control systems. In this paper the authors’ empirically investigate the link between manufacturing practice choices and the reporting of manufacturing performance measures to shop floor personnel.
New Manufacturing Practices
TQM – Promotes involvement of the entire organization in continuously improving quality. The responsibility for detecting nonconforming items shifts from a quality control department to line personnel. Makes each worker responsible for quality control and for stopping production when there is a manufacturing problem. Workers are encouraged to identify ways to improve product and process quality.
JIT – Running production on a demand-pull basis, placing production control with workers, and streamlining the production process.
Teamwork – Workers are encouraged to pool their knowledge of the production process and come up with innovative approaches to improve productivity and quality and to reduce production lead-time.
JIT, TQM, and Teamwork are closely related improvement efforts that are sometimes classified together as world class manufacturing practices. The common theme behind these practices is an attempt to fully utilize the talents of workers on the shop floor by putting production under their control. Workers and encouraged to solve problems on their own and improvise in unknown situations.
The authors’ state that JIT, TQM, and teamwork will shift production control to personnel on the shop floor, which in turn will increase worker morale and motivate them to contribute to process improvements and innovations. However, in order for workers to identify problems and opportunities, management needs to provide feedback information in the form of manufacturing performance measures to personnel on the shop floor. As such the following hypotheses were developed:
H1: The availability of information on productivity and quality is positively related to the extent of implementation of JIT, TQM, and teamwork programs.
H2: The posting of charts about defects, schedule compliance, and machine breakdown on the shop floor is positively related to the extent of implementation of JIT, TQM, and teamwork programs.
H3: Worker morale is positively related to the extent of implementation of JIT, TQM, and teamwork programs.
Questionnaire responses from 362 workers from 40 manufacturing plants situated in the US.
60 plants were randomly selected from lists of manufacturing plants stratified to equally represent the transportation equipment, electronics, and machinery industries.
Questionnaires were administered to 10 randomly selected workers in each plant, with an average of 6-10 returned.
The research team visited 12 of the plants in the initial phase of the study where tours were taken and a pretest of the questionnaire was conducted.
Analysis was conducted at the individual worker level due to the variations in the implementation of the new manufacturing practices.
1. JIT – measures key aspects of JIT implementation from a worker’s perspective
2. TQM – measures key aspects of a quality program: quality incentives, worker inspection of output, and stoppage of production for quality problems
3. Teamwork (TEAMWK) – measures the extent to which workers organize into small teams to solve problems
4. Decentralization (DECENT) – measures the extent to which workers can make decisions without consulting their supervisors.
All scales were examined for reliability and validity (content, construct, and criterion) with no problems detected.
Quality and Productivity Information Availability:
1. Quality – information on quality performance is readily available
2. Productivity – information on productivity is readily available to employees
Posting of Charts on the Shop Floor:
3. Defects – charts showing defects
4. Schedule – charts showing schedule compliance
5. Machine – charts plotting the frequency of machine breakdowns
6. Worker Morale
All independent variables show significant positive correlations, which are expected given that they are sometimes grouped together into world class manufacturing processes.
All the regressions are significant
JIT, TQM, and teamwork exhibit strong positive association with the likelihood that information on quality and productivity is provided to workers
Decentralization is not related to the provision of this information
All predictor variables are significantly related to the posting of schedule compliance charts
JIT and TQM are related to the provision of machine breakdown charts.
No difference across industries of results
Overall, this paper examines the association between JIT, TQM, and teamwork practices and the provision of manufacturing performance information to line personnel. Two important findings resulted from this study:
1. the provision of information to shop floor workers is positively related to the implementation of JIT, TQM, and teamwork practices. Providing evidence of a link between manufacturing practices and control systems that emphasizes the role of workers.
2. employee morale is positively related to the existence of JIT, TQM, and teamwork programs.
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