In this essay I am going to argue that the Japanese organisational structure and quality initiatives are the two main feature of the Japanese management system. I will put forward the theory that the pre-quality orientated organisational framework was very much suited towards the introduction of quality management initiatives.
"There was a time when the differences between the market-orientated British employment system and the organisation-orientated Japanese system would have been happily ascribed to 'the unique genius of the respective races'...Nowadays, given the prevalence of theories about the 'structural requisites' of industrialism, one is urged to probe further". (Dore, Ronald 1973)
The above quote predicates the theory of late development; namely that Japanese competitive advantage can be traced to the fact that Japan is a country which industrialised at a very late time period when compared to that of the Occident. When the industrialisation ball started rolling the latest twentieth and nineteenth century techniques were being introduced into a country where workers had the equivalent skill levels of the sixteenth or seventeenth century European artisans; education was found as a necessity.
Japan already had the basis of strong educational system at the start of the twentieth century with approximately 90% of children completing primary schooling. Since the market could not provide the necessary skills, worker education by employers became very important from the start of an industrialised Japan. Employers in Japan were also more likely to invest in human capital because they were buying technology for capital intensive industries from countries that paid higher wagers thus making absenteeism and turnover more costly. (Dore, R 1973).
The Japanese employment system including factors such as internal labour markets, life-time employment, seniority wages is somewhat unique an thus must be considered one of the...