Management And Accounting Web

Takeuchi, H. 1981. Productivity: Learning from the Japanese. California Management Review (Summer): 5-18.

Outline by Brenda Okulski
Master of Accountancy Program
University of South Florida, Fall 2000

Japanese Management Main Page | JIT Main Page

Lagging U.S. Production is a Serious Problem

Whose fault is it?

* Government.
* Unions.
* Environmentalists.
* Corporate Managers.
* Workers.

Response of Corporate Managers

Someone else’s problem.

* Beyond their control.
* U.S. still most productive nation.

Seeing it as their problem.

* Loss of market share.
* Decrease profits.
* Increase inflation.

Concerns put into action.

* Productivity improvement programs.
* Japanese Productivity System.

Japanese Productivity System

#1 Product Quality Control.

* Productivity improvement by-product of QC.
* "Religious" dedication to quality.
* Positive input & output effects.

#2 Grassroots Involvement.

* Worker suggestion system
* "Bottom up" approach

#3 Quality Control Circles.

* Address more complex problems.
* Consist of non-QC workers & foremen.
* Solve product QC and other problems.
* Active company support.
* Significant monetary benefits (savings).
* Many intangible benefits: morale, safety, teamwork, quality, communication.

#4 Non-Financial Rewards

* Positive reinforcement tools: praise & recognition.
* Minimal monetary incentive.

#5 Materialistic Management

* Close, nurturing relationships motivate & develop workers.
* Constant flow of information.

Uniqueness is in how the key factors fit together.

* No major differences in resources.
* Most programs developed by U.S.

Japanese system Transferable to USA?

Some say "no". The Japanese have

* Cozy government relationships.
* Company-based unions.
* Lifetime employment.
* Innate group orientation.

Some say "yes".

* Japanese companies with US subsidiaries.
* US companies with QC circles.


Fate of Productivity Improvement Rests with Managers.

* Top management must support it.
* Assistance from a variety of departments is needed.
* Challenge workers to solve problems.
* Utilize product QC as catalyst to improve productivity.


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