An Industry‐specific Study of Factors Contributing to the Maintenance and Longevity of Quality Circles

Publication Date01 March 1993
AuthorDianna T. Sheffield,Lynn Godkin,Richard Drapeau
Date01 March 1993
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8551.1993.tb00161.x
British Journal
of
Management,
Vol.
4,47-55
(1993)
An
Industry-specific Study
of
Factors Contributing
to the Maintenance and Longevity
of
Quality Circles
Dianna
T.
Sheffield*, Lynn Godkin? and Richard DrapeauS
*Miles, Inc., Polysar Rubber Division, Akron, Ohio, USA
t
College
of
Business, Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas, USA and the Small Business Development Center,
University
of
Houston at the John Gray Institute, Beaumont, Texas, USA
$College
of
Business, Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas, USA
SUMMARY Lawler and Mohrman (1989, as others (Griffin, 1988; Marks
et
af.,
1986), have asso-
ciated
a
‘honeymoon effect’ (Lawler and Mohrman, 1987)
or
period of ‘initial momen-
tum’
(Solberg, 1985) with quality circle (QC) progress. They have been shown to
be
successful for about
2
years before there is a decline (Griffin, 1988). Focusing on a
single synthetic rubber manufacturing facility, individuals who had participated in QCs
at the site were surveyed. Because the QC programme had been in place for 7 years,
this study sought to determine what factors contributed
to
that longevity.
A quality circle (QC) is usually a group of eight
to ten people from the same work area (Collard
and Dale, 1985), who are trained in some form of
problem-solving techniques (Griffin, 1988). They
voluntarily meet (Dale and Hayward, 1984; Dale
and Lees, 1985; Imberman, 1982b) at least once
per week (Seelye and Sween, 1985) to identify, ana-
lyse and solve quality and related problems in their
area
of
responsibility (Munchus, 1983).
QCs initially appeared in Japan in the 1960s,
largely as an outgrowth of American economic and
rehabilitation programmes following World War
I1
(Lehrer, 1982). The first United States based
firm,
Lockheed Missile and Space Company,
adopted the QC concept in 1974 (Crocker
et
al.
1984). About
25
companies were involved by 1978;
American Airlines, General Motors, Honeywell,
Lockheed, 3M and Westinghouse Electric were
among them (Shimada
et
al.,
1988).
All
correspondence should be sent to: Lynn Godkin, Box
10025, Beaumont, Texas 77710, USA.
A
Statement
of
the Problem
A number of theorists have contributed to our
empirical understanding of QCs.’ Yet, as Griffin
(1 988) and Bernstein (1983) aptly concluded, there
is a scarcity of empirical evidence concerning the
QC process. Wood
et al.
(1983) assert that little
consideration has been given to factors contribut-
ing to QC introduction, installation or long-term
maintenance. A ‘honeymoon effect’ typically
occurs following their installation (Lawler and
Mohrman, 1987). Marks
et
al.
(1986) found pro-
ductivity and absenteeism improved modestly at
their study site over a period of about 24 months
before declining. Griffin (1988) specifically used a
longitudinal and experimental research design to
track 73 employees organized into eight circles over
a 3-year period.
See: Cole and Tachiki, 1984; Collard and Dale, 1985;
Cox and Dale, 1985; Dale and Barlow, 1984; Dale and
Hayward, 1984; Dale and Lees, 1985; Frazer and Dale,
1985; Drago, 1985; Hill, 1986; Imberman, 1982b; 19821
83;
O’Donnell and O’Donnel, 1984; Seelye and Sween,
1985; Steel, 1985; White and Bednar, 1984-1985.
1045-31
72/93/01004749$09.50
0
1993 by John Wiley
&
Sons, Ltd.
Received 22 January 1992
Revised22 June 1992

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT