Intro to Quality Discussion

The only advantage Japanese com-panies had was price. Japanese goods, as a rule, were cheap. For this reason, Western manufacturers, particularly those in the Unit-ed States, saw the Japanese threat as being rooted in cost rather than quality.
Reading the future more accurately, albeit belatedly, Japanese
companies saw quality as the key to success and, in 1950, began doing something about it. While Japanese companies were slowly but patiently and persistently creating a quality-based infrastruc-ture (people, processes, and facilities), American companies were still focusing on cost, shifting the manufacture of labor-intensive products offshore and, at the same time, neglecting infrastructure improvements.
By the mid-1970s, the quality of Japanese manufactured
goods in such key areas as automobiles and consumer electron-ics products was better than that of competing American firms. As a result, Japanese exports increased exponentially, while those of Western countries experienced corresponding decreases.13 This explains how Japan rose up out of the ashes of World
War II to become a world-leading industrial nation. But the story does not end there. After losing market share to the Japanese for more than two decades, companies in the United States began to embrace the principles of quality management. As a result, by the mid-1990s, companies in the United States had reasserted them-selves in the global marketplace. Now, the two countries are like well-matched heavyweight
boxers who slug it out every day in the world of global business. On any given day, either can win the global business battle. There are no longer any automatic winners. Regardless of whether they are Japanese or American, those companies that adhere to the prin-ciples of quality management and continually improve are the ones that will win in today’s marketplace.
DISCUSSION QUESTION
Discuss the following question in class or outside of class with your fellow students:
1. Why do you think that companies in the United States were slow to adopt the quality management principles Japanese companies had used to gain market share
Worldwide?
Technology Adoption by Small Manufacturers
“The Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) reports that only 11 to 15 percent of all machine tools in the U.S. are automated; the majority of those automated are found in large companies.” “A Census Bureau study found that half of the small manufac-turers surveyed don’t use any of 17 technologies cited by experts as critical to competitiveness and didn’t plan to do so in the next five years. Among firms that used one of the technologies, 60 percent had no plans to adopt other technologies.”
Discussion Questions
Discuss the following questions in class or outside of class with your fellow students:
1. Why don’t more small companies in the United States adopt modern technologies?
2. How can modern technologies be justified from a cost per-spective in a small company?