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Go through the case study and answer the questions that follow. The customer knows best: AtlantiCare TQM isn’t an easy management strategy to introd

Assignment Task 

Go through the case study and answer the questions that follow.

The customer knows best: AtlantiCare

TQM isn’t an easy management strategy to introduce into a business; in fact, many attempts tend to fall flat. Often, it’s because firms maintain natural barriers to full involvement. Middle managers, for example, tend to complain their authority is being challenged when boots on the ground are encouraged to speak up in the early stages of TQM. Yet in a culture of constant quality enhancement, the views of any given workforce are invaluable.

One firm that’s proven the merit of TQM is New Jersey-based healthcare provider AtlantiCare. Managing 5,000 employees at 25 locations, AtlantiCare is a serious business that’s boasted a respectable turnaround for nearly two decades. Yet in order to increase that margin further still, managers wanted to implement improvements across the board. Because patient satisfaction is the single-most important aspect of the healthcare industry, engaging in a renewed campaign of TQM proved a natural fit.

The firm chose to adopt a ‘plan-do-check-act’ cycle, revealing gaps in staff communication – which subsequently meant longer patient waiting times and more complaints. To tackle this, managers explored a sideways method of internal communications. Instead of information trickling down from top-to-bottom, all of the company’s employees were given freedom to provide vital feedback at each and every level.

AtlantiCare decided to ensure all new employees understood this quality culture from the onset. At orientation, staff now receive a crash course in the company’s performance excellence framework – a management system that organises the firm’s processes into five key areas: quality, customer service, people and workplace, growth and financial performance. As employees rise through the ranks, this emphasis on improvement follows, so managers can operate within the company’s tight-loose-tight process management style.

After creating benchmark goals for employees to achieve at all levels – including better engagement at the point of delivery, increasing clinical communication and identifying and prioritising service opportunities – AtlantiCare was able to thrive. The number of repeat customers at the firm tripled, and its market share hit a six-year high. Profits unsurprisingly followed. The firm’s revenues shot up from $280m to $650m after implementing the quality improvement strategies, and the number of patients being serviced dwarfed state numbers.

  • What is your understanding of the organization AtlantiCare?
  • Is the TQM approach of AtlantiCare realistic and practical in today’s context?
  • If the TQM practices of AtlantiCare is followed in another country, will it be successful? Provide with proper reasoning.
  • Do you feel TQM will help in Short Term or Long-Term Success? Give your own understanding.
  • Does TQM integrate quality with quantity(Profit)?

Go through the case and answer the questions that follow In what represents a reversal in the flow of knowledge between the two countries, managers in U.S. organizations have begun to study and imitate the practices of their Japanese counterparts. The quality circles programs that exist in many Japanese organizations are being widely adopted in U.S. organizations. However, the high expectations and lack of planned evaluation for the quality circle programs in many U.S. organizations suggests that quality circles are already in the adoption-disappointment-discontinuation cycle that has been characteristic of many other managerial fads. The authors present several reasons why quality circles can lead to increases in the morale, motivation, productivity, and work quality of workers and suggest that the conventional wisdom, which sees them as either a form of job enrichment or a human relations technique, is ill-focused.

The types of organizational settings in which quality circles are most likely to be effective are discussed and suggestions are made regarding the proper evaluation of quality circle programs. In recent years it has become fashionable to attribute the relative success of Japanese firms over their American counterparts to differences in management styles and techniques.

This attribution, which has followed in the wake of Japan’s remarkable post-World War n economic success, has led to the borrowing by American firms of certain Japanese management techniques. Most notable in this area has been American interest in the small groups of workers in Japanese firms that work on quality and productivity problems in addition to their normal production responsibilities. These groups are most known as Quality Circles, or QCs. A QC is a group of employees who meet periodically under the direction of a team leader, to identify and solve work related problems. To effectively perform their problem-solving roles, members of the QCs are usually trained in two kinds of techniques: problem-solving methods and group processes.

The Japanese QC represents a union of the ideas of statistical control methods and decentralization of quality control responsibilities which were developed in the U.S. and taken to Japan by U.S. consultants. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) and the Japanese government widely disseminated the idea of quality control through publications along with radio and television series. Their aim was to make quality a national goal as part of Japan’s post-World War II reconstruction efforts.

Then, in 1962 the JUSE sponsored a new magazine called Quality Control for Foremen. An editorial statement in the first edition called for the formation of QCs and their registration with the JUSE. The ideas for QCs expressed included:

  • Foremen should play the role of QC leaders.
  • Worker membership should be on a voluntary basis;
  • The foremen should disseminate relevant quality control information to workers; and
  • The QC group should use basic statistical methods in their analyses and solution of quality related problems.

As of September 2018, the number of QCs registered with the JUSE was 125,000 and their membership totaled 1,132,000. The number of similar but unregistered groups is expected to be a few times larger than that of registered groups and, therefore, the number of Japanese workers who are members of QCs or similar groups is probably several million. Importing QCs: The American Twist—The Japanese idea of QCs has begun to catch on in U.S. industry and their rapid adoption suggests that they may become the managerial fad of the 1980s. Quality Circles were first tried in America in 1974 by Lockheed’s Space and Missile Unit in Sunnyvale, Califomia. Estimates of the number of companies that have implemented QCs since then put the numbers in the thousands.

The initial diffusion of QCs in the U.S. was primarily among large corporations, especially in quality conscious industries such as the aerospace and defense industries, and in industries plagued with productivity problems, such as the automotive industry. In recent years, the number and diversity of companies adopting QCs has increased so that they are now operating in: service and non-service industries; the public and private sectors; and large and small companies. Although many major corporations advertise that they have quality circle programs, QCs have usually been introduced only in selected areas and are not diffused throughout the whole organization.

One reason for this widespread adoption of QCs in American companies EVALUATING QUALITY CIRCLES is the vigor and competence with which a small number of consulting groups have marketed their ideas and programs in this area. After the successful introduction of QCs at Lockheed in 1974, three of the Lockheed managers involved left the company and became active as consultants in introducing QCs to many U.S. firms.

As consultants, these three managers developed a wide array of educational and training materials that define the standard contents and processes for most American QC programs. In 1978, the former Lockheed managers founded the Inter-national Association of Quality Circles (IAQC) to provide an institutionalized forum for discussing and promoting the QC idea. Membership in the IAQC is reportedly around 3,000 and includes consultants as well as managers.


  1. Is the concept of Quality Circle, Japanese culture specific? 
  2. What are the changes required for Quality Culture adoption in non-Japanese culture?
  3. Highlight the contribution of QC to improve quality in a department / function when organizations strive to realize organizational goals and objectives?
  4. Quality Circle can play an effective role to usher genuine productivity and work quality improvement in any industry / business / institution / government regardless of a culture or country”. Comment on this statement.

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