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QUALITY AND THE NATIONAL CULTURE
J. M. Juran
INTRODUCTION 36.1 QUALITY IN CAPITALISTIC ECONOMIES
Competition in Quality 36.2 Direct Access to Marketplace Feedback
Protection of Society 36.3 CULTURAL DIFFERENCES 36.3 MULTINATIONAL COLLABORATION REFERENCES 36.4
The goal of high quality is common to all countries. This common goal must compete with other national goals amid the massive forces—political, economic, and social—which determine the national priorities. This section examines these forces and their effect on the problems of attaining quality. The growth of international trade and of multinational companies has required that attention be directed to understanding the impact of national culture on managing for quality. To aid in this understanding, the subject is organized under the following general subdivisions: Developing economies: The special problems of managing for quality in such economies are discussed in Section 37, Quality in Developing Countries. Other economies: Other sections discuss the problems of managing for quality in specific economies:
G G G G G G
38: 39: 40: 41: 42: 43:
Quality in Western Europe Quality in Central and Eastern Europe Quality in The United States Quality in Japan Quality in the People’s Republic of China Quality in Latin America
In all types of national economy, there are natural resources and limitations which influence the priority of goals. However, an even greater force is that of human leadership and determination. Historically, these human forces have been more significant than natural resources in determining whether goals are attained. The words “capitalistic,” “socialistic,” and “developing” are simple labels for some very complex concepts. The broad definition of “capitalism” is private ownership of the means of production and distribution, as contrasted with state ownership under socialism. Yet all self-styled capitalistic countries include a degree of state ownership, e.g., in matters of health, education, transport, and communication. Similarly, the self-styled socialistic countries contain, in varying degrees, some private ownership of enterprises for production of goods and services. In like manner, countries which are
“developing” in the industrial sense may be highly developed in terms of other aspects of national maturity, e.g., political or social. The reader is urged to keep in mind that the words “capitalistic,” “socialistic,” and “developing” are used in a relative sense and cannot be considered as absolutes. The subject matter of this section and of the companion Sections 37 through 43 are of obvious interest and importance to those engaged (or contemplating engagement) in operations of an international nature. Such operations are becoming ever more extensive as trade barriers are progressively removed. However, removal of governmental barriers has little effect on cultural barriers. These remain as a continuing problem until the cultural patterns (and the reasons behind them) are understood, appreciated, and taken into account. In the economic sense, the capitalistic developed countries are the “vital few.” The developing countries are the most numerous, occupy most of the land surface, and include most of the human population. However, it is the capitalistic developed countries which produce the bulk of the world’s goods and services. This great importance (in the economic sense) suggests that those who engage in international trade should acquire a working knowledge of the cultures which prevail in the respective countries.
QUALITY IN CAPITALISTIC ECONOMIES
All capitalistic economies exhibit some basic similarities which influence the importance of quality in relation to other goals in the economy.
Competition in Quality. Capitalistic societies permit and even encourage competition among
enterprises, including competition in quality. This competition in quality takes multiple forms. Creation of New Enterprises. A frequent reason for the birth of new enterprises is poor quality of goods or services. For example, a neighborhood has outgrown the capacity of the local food shop or restaurant, so the clients must wait in long queues before they can receive service. In such cases, entrepreneurs will sense a market opportunity and will create a new enterprise which attracts clients by offering superior service. The ease of creating new enterprises is a far greater force in quality improvement than is generally realized. All economies, whether capitalistic or socialistic, suffer poor quality during shortages of goods. Creation of new enterprises is one means of alleviating shortages, and thereby of eliminating an invariable cause of poor quality. Product Improvement. A common form of competition in quality is through improving products so that they have more appeal to the users and can therefore be sold successfully in the face of competition from existing products. These product improvements come mainly from internal product development carried on by existing companies. In addition, some product improvements are designed by independents who either launch new enterprises or sell their ideas to existing companies. New Products. These may be “products” or even new systems approaches, e.g., designs which minimize user maintenance. The industrial giants of today include many members founded on new systems concepts. As with product improvements, the new products may originate through development from within or through acquisition from the outside. Competition in quality results in duplication of products and facilities. Such duplication is regarded as wasteful by some economists. However, the general effect has been to stimulate producers to outdo each other, with resulting benefit to users.
Direct Access to Marketplace Feedback. In the capitalistic economies, the income of the enterprise is determined by its ability to sell its products, whether directly to users or through an
QUALITY AND THE NATIONAL CULTURE
intermediate merchant chain. If poor quality results in excessive returns, claims, or inability to sell the product, the manufacturers are provided with the warning signals which are a prerequisite to remedial action. This severe and direct impact of poor quality on the manufacturers’ income has the useful byproduct of forcing manufacturers to keep improving their market research and early warning signals, so as to be able to respond promptly in case of trouble. Direct access to the marketplace is not merely a matter of receiving complaints and other information about bad quality, important though that is. Even more important is the access to the marketplace before products are launched and sales programs are prepared. In the capitalistic economies, the autonomous companies all make their own forecasts on how much they expect to sell. Their ability to thrive depends on how well they are able to realize their forecasts. The potential benefits and detriments force the companies to pay attention to the needs of the marketplace, since it provides their income.
Protection of Society. The autonomy of capitalist enterprises enables them to misrepresent their products, sell unsafe products, damage the environment, fail to live up to their warranties, and so on. The extent of such practices has been large enough to generate extensive preventive legislation. In this connection, see Section 35, Quality and Society.
There are many of these, including: Language: Many countries harbor multiple languages and numerous dialects. These are a serious barrier to communication. Customs and traditions: These and related elements of the culture provide the precedents and premises which are guides to decisions and actions. Ownership of the companies: The pattern of ownership determines the strategy of short-term versus long-term results, as well as the motivations of owners versus nonowners. The methods used for managing operations: These are determined by numerous factors such as reliance on system versus people; extent of professional training for managers; extent of separation of planning from execution; careers within a single company versus mobile careers. Suspicions: In some countries, there is a prior history of hostilities resulting from ancient wars, religious differences, membership in different clans, and so on. The resulting mutual suspicions are then passed down from generation to generation. It is clearly important to learn about the nature of a culture before negotiating with members of that culture. Increasingly, companies have provided special training to employees before sending them abroad. Similarly, when companies establish foreign subsidiaries, they usually train local nationals to qualify for the senior posts.
Collaboration across cultures is a many-faceted problem. For example, a system may be designed in country A but the subsystem designs may come from other countries. In like manner, companies from multiple countries may supply components, carry out manufacture, marketing, installation, maintenance, and so on. Numerous methodologies have been evolved to help coordinate such multinational activities. Those widely used include:
Standardization: This is accomplished through organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). A special application is the Allied Quality Assurance Publication (AQAP) standards widely used by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries for multinational contracting. Some of the standards used by these and other organizations are listed in Appendix III, Selected Quality Standards, Specifications, and Related Documents. The consortium: This form involves creating an association of companies from various countries. The consortium is usually dedicated to a specific project, e.g., the Airbus. [See Debout (1978) for elaboration.] Contract Management: In many cases, the prime contractor provides a coordinating service for the subcontractors (who may include a consortium). [See McClure (1979) relative to the F16 aircraft; see also McClure (1976).] Technology Transfer: This is carried out in numerous well-known ways: international professional societies and their committees; conferences; exchange visits; training courses and seminars. In large, multinational companies, such activities are carried out within the companies as well. [For an example involving the use of multinational quality councils, see Groocock (1978).]
Debout, E. (1978). “European Aerospace Cooperation and Quality.” International Conference on Quality Control, Tokyo, pp. A1-11 to A1-16. Groocock, J. M. (1978). “Quality Councils—A Means for International Cooperation.” International Conference on Quality Control, Tokyo, pp. A1-17 to A1-22. McClure, J. Y. (1976). “Quality—A Common International Goal.” ASQC Technical Conference Transactions, Milwaukee, pp. 459–466. McClure, J. Y. (1979). “Procurement Quality Control Within the International Environment.” ASQC Technical Conference Transactions, Milwaukee, pp. 643–649.
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