Japanese Management and Total Quality Management (TQM)-The Application in Higher Education Institutions

By Man, Mandy Mok Kim; Kato, Iwao | International Journal of Management and Innovation, July 2010 | Go to article overview

Japanese Management and Total Quality Management (TQM)-The Application in Higher Education Institutions


Man, Mandy Mok Kim, Kato, Iwao, International Journal of Management and Innovation


Introduction

Management concepts and practices, such as the Total Quality Management (TQM) system discussed below, aim at continually expanding wealth and growth potential. Technological innovation, however, brings with it fewer job opportunities in the manufacturing sector (because of the mechanisation of the production process) and reduced office work-force, while encouraging expansion of planning, R&D, and sales divisions. This phenomenon is referred to as the development of a "software economy." Emergence of software economy has been reducing direct employment and diversifying the type, increasing the volume, and shortening the employment periods of indirect employment. For this reason, it is difficult to forecast in which areas the traditional Japanese style of management will remain effective or will have to change. One certainty is that, although people will likely continue to place priority on where one works over what one does for work, the trend for people to give priority to occupational preference will grow stronger in the future. And this trend will likely extend to education service sectors as well. Here, people will likely place increasing priority to the quality of education they can get from an education institution over the location of the education institution.

According to Lawler et al. (1998), 76 percent of Fortune 1000 companies were using some form of TQM. Further, Van der Wiele and Brown (2000) indicated that there are companies where the quality management philosophy continues to be the central focus of business and the mechanism for contributing to their better performances. Similarly, American Association for Higher Education (1993, 1994) revealed that higher education institutions were notable for their focus on TQM processes and implementation, and attempts were made to summarise the impact of TQM on the higher education institutions. On top of that, Lewis and Smith (1994) reported that over 200 higher education institutions throughout the U.S.A. were involved in practicing TQM. This number has grown from 92 in 1991 to 220 institutions in 1992, and is expected to increase substantially in the future. These surveys also showed that TQM was credited with helping to boost the morale, reduce costs, and improve performance among higher education institutions (Lewis and Smith (1994) and Bemowski (1991)). In this article, I will outline the concept of Japanese-style management, TQM, and ISO 9000 standard, and discuss how these concepts can be implemented in universities and help them shape their mission and vision.

Japanese-style Management

Japanese-style management is characterised by lifetime employment, seniority wage system, vague job classifications (which reflects an unspecified range of responsibilities and power), and groupism. It is generally true that workers select their employers, not their occupations, and this matches well with the practice of regular recruitment of new graduates and extensive training of new employees for a particular business practice within each company. Because the system and individual jobs are unique to each company, there is a tendency created for the employees to settle in one company, which justifies the immense investment made by the companies on training their employees. The seniority wage system was based originally on the great value placed on the experiences and skills senior employees would have acquired, and on the assumption that living expenses would be greater for more senior employees. This practice became firmly established and widespread during the period of sharp inflation. The lifetime employment system was established sometime during 1916 to 1920 in Japan, when the labour movement was active, to please and secure the skilled labour force. In parallel with this practice, when unskilled outside contract workers and temporary workers were recruited, skilled workers of the key production sectors were deployed from the parent company to its affiliates. …

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