Managing Quality Fads: How American Business Learned to Play the Quality Game

Hardcover | November 1, 1998

byRobert E. Cole

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Can managers learn from fads? That is the question Robert Cole addresses in this insightful book about the various factors supporting and inhibiting organizational learning. A longtime student of the Japanese and American quality movements, Cole focuses on the response of American industry to the challenge posed in the early 1980s by high quality goods from Japan. While most American managers view this challenge as slowly but successfully met, many academics see thequality movement that emerged from it as just another fad. In seeking to reconcile these two views, Cole explores the reasons behind American industry's slow response to Japanese quality, arguing that a variety of institutional factors inhibited management action in the early 1980s. He thendescribes the reshaping of institutions that allowed American companies to close the quality gap and to achieve sustained quality improvements in the 1990s. Hewlett-Packard serves as an example of a company that made this institutional transition more effectively than most. Cole describes Hewlett-Packard's successful strategies while also pointing out the serious problems that it and other companies face as they attempt to adapt, improve, and go beyondJapanese practices. He also uses Hewlett-Packard, an exemplar of the highly decentralized company, to explore effective strategies for the creation, dissemination, and implementation of knowledge. Unprecedented as a scholarly treatment of the quality movement,Managing Quality Fads provides several important lessons for those interested in management decision making under conditions of uncertainty and organizational transformation in a rapidly changing business environment.

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Can managers learn from fads? That is the question Robert Cole addresses in this insightful book about the various factors supporting and inhibiting organizational learning. A longtime student of the Japanese and American quality movements, Cole focuses on the response of American industry to the challenge posed in the early 1980s by ...

An author who has been writing about Japanese and American quality movements for over twenty years, Robert E. Cole began studying Japanese practices in the mid-1970s and then looked at how these practices were--or were not--adopted by U.S. firms in the 1980s. As a consultant to Fortune 500 companies he has witnessed first-hand the p...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9.29 × 6.3 × 1.18 inPublished:November 1, 1998Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195122607

ISBN - 13:9780195122602

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Table of Contents

Tables and FiguresIntroduction1. The New Quality Model: Continuity or Discontinuity?2. Market Pressures and Quality Consciousness3. How Much Did You Know and When Did You Know It?4. It Ain't Rocket Science, But...5. Casting and Harvesting the Nets6. Putting It Together7. Modeling the Future for Hewlett-Packard8. Adoption, Adaptation, and Reaction at Hewlett-Packard9. Quality Outcomes10. On Organizational LearningNotesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Cole's meticulous description captures the complexity of organizational learning at both an institutional level and an organizational level...Cole shows us that learning is deceptively difficult, that institutions significantly mediate change, that managing knowledge is not mechanical, andthat even fads can be effective."--American Journal of Sociology