Small work groups made up of about five to fifteen workers who meet regularly with one or two managers to discuss the group's performance and working conditions are known as quality circles. The purpose of this team approach to management is both to improve product quality and to lower product costs.
Workers are motivated to save the corporation money because they. in turn. receive bonuses or higher wages for their efforts. Quality circles have been praised for creating worker satisfaction. helping employees develop their potential. and improving productivity (Ishikawa. 1984). Because quality circles focus on both productivity and worker satisfaction. they (at least ideally) meet the needs of both the corporation and the workers. Would the Japanese model work in the United States? Although the possibility of implementing the Japanese approach in u.s based corporations has been widely discussed. its large- scale acceptance is doubtful. Cultural traditions in Japan place greater emphasis on
the importance of the group rather than the individual. and workers in the United States are not likely to embrace this idea because it directly conflicts with the values of individualism and personal achievement so strongly held by many in this country (Ouchi, 1981). Many U.S. workers are also unwilling to make a long term commitment to one corporation for fear that they . may be laid off or forced into early retirement. in recent years. however. more organizations in the United States have developed a participatory management style in hopes of producing greater worker satisfaction and higher rates of productivity and profits (see Florida and Kenney. 1991).