chapter  5
38 Pages

Light and Shadow in Quality Control Circles

WithKumazawa Makoto

This chapter begins with Quality Control (QC) circles convened to improve the technical skills and knowledge of the workers. QC circles are being introduced in the overseas branches of Japanese enterprises. It may appear difficult to introduce these activities in countries that differ from Japan in culture or patterns of labor-management relations. Because Japanese workers rediscovered solidarity through a movement dominated by model QC circles, they were mobilized to follow the logic of capital even more fully than they had as lonely wage earners. Frequently, the most faithful and clever employees became the vanguard of the movement, and they expected the reward of promotions and pay raises for their meritorious service in model QC circles. When a model circle asserts a goal of enhancing the intellectual skills of workers, it does not seek to restore an artisanal spirit that seeks to preserve decision making powers inherent in a given job.