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New evidence on the origins of quality circles

Ellis, Gary, Found, Pauline, Kumar, Maneesh and Harwell, Jan 2019. New evidence on the origins of quality circles. Total Quality Management and Business Excellence 30 (S1) , S129-S140. 10.1080/14783363.2019.1665830
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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the contribution of Benzaemon Inoue and Sumitomo Electric Industries (SEI) in the early development of what came to be known as quality control (QC) circles. This paper analyses archival records including journals, books, documents such as the SEI Deming prize-winning submission of 1962 and private letters sent by Benzaemon Inoue to the author Kenneth Hopper. Methodology/Approach: This paper uses the analytically structured history approach. This methodology is used to interpret and document history as an analytic historical narrative and must describe such things as causation, events and concepts. In addition, the narrative must be framed in the context of the time when the events took place. Findings: There are three main findings: firstly, that SEI first developed QC circles and won the 1962 Deming Prize based on QC circles; secondly that SEI used societal and cultural conditions in Japan to encourage participation by the workers in improving quality; and thirdly, that the most important method of participation for SEI was suggestion systems. Research limitations/contributions: The primary data for this paper have been drawn from various archival records, which are for the most part not peer reviewed. Wherever possible, triangulation of evidence has been undertaken to mitigate the inherent risk of bias. The main contribution is an evaluation of the roles of Benzaemon Inoue and SEI in the early development of QC circles and total quality management (TQM). Originality/value: The originality of this paper lies in examining Benzaemon Inoue's and SEI's contribution to the development of QC circles. The importance in the history of quality management of their Deming Prize winning submission of 1962 has been underestimated.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1478-3363
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 July 2019
Date of Acceptance: 16 May 2019
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2020 04:22
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/123750

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