Saturday, 17 December 2011

Books I was supposed to read

Good to Great by Michael Collins (2004)

The New York Times List for Fiction Books

In Search for Excellence by Tom Peters & Bob Waterman (1982)

Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch

Winning: The Ultimate Business How to do by Jack Welch

The Allure of Toxic Leaders by John Lipman-Blumen

Bad Leadership by Barbara Kellerman

Chainsaw by Dunlop

Only little people pay Taxes by Leona Hemsley

Why most Things fail by Paul Omerod (2005)

Churchill's Wizards by Nicholas Rankin

Something from the Author Horatio Nelson

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Final Disseration for Bachelor of Arts in International Management, Christian Mate



 

List of Table and Figures



Figures
Figure 1 – The meaning of Kaizen

8
Figure 2 – Kaizen strategy 

11
Figure 3 – The TPS House

20
Figure 4 – The Concept of Jidoka

23
Figure 5 – Bosch  Production System (BPS) – Principles

26
Figure 6 – The 5D Model of Prof. Geert Hofstede applied for Japan and Germany

34

Table
Table 1 – Prof. Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture Scales

34









 

Abbreviations




BPS

Bosch Production System
IDV

Individualism
LTO

Long-Term Orientation
MAS

Masculinity
PDI

Power Distance Index
TPS

Toyota Production System
UAI

Uncertainty Avoidance Index



 

1.     Introduction

Kaizen is the main philosophy of Japanese management techniques, and was the main drive of the Toyota Production System (TPS). The TPS was developed by Ohno Taiichi and Shigo Shigeo in the decades following the WWII. In the 1980s the philosophy reached other countries where it continues to be successfully used until nowadays.  Many companies, for instance Robert Bosch GmbH (referred to as Bosch in this dissertation), adopted and adapted the TPS and named it after itself: Bosch Production System (BPS).
In this dissertation TPS and BPS will be compared in order to verify their differences and similarities and establish a parallel to cultural aspects. The importance of this research lies on the fact that it could help companies in different countries to overcome problems related to cultural characteristics on the adaptation of Japanese management techniques.
Toyota is an innovative global company, which success is attributable to the competitiveness of its production system, based on the kaizen philosophy. Therefore it was chosen as a main source of research. The Toyota Production System (TPS) has also helped the company to integrate innovation into its business, enabling spectacular ongoing cost savings. 
The Toyota approach does not simply mean doing more with less, but instead a different way of viewing how businesses work associated to practical tools that integrate innovation, technology and people's creativity into each step of the production process.  The TPS, unlike other management approaches, offers no single or immediate solution, but is instead a continuously improving system of production.
Bosch, one of Europe’s most innovative companies, anticipated the challenges other European firms will most probably have to face in the near future. Its response has been to emphasize innovation in all areas and to provide a production system that is constantly improving. This strategy, called Bosch Production System, is of interest to other businesses because it brings more coherence to the organization and simplifies the operations of the company. This all-embracing and comprehensive production system results in a competitive advantage due to the fact that it reaches all levels of activity in the company.
Even though TPS and BPS use many different management techniques, both rely on a common ground: TPS as well as BPS are built on the philosophy of kaizen, which means constantly improving. Thus, in this dissertation, the starting point of study and analysis are the theoretical studies regarding the application of kaizen. This term is thoroughly discussed in Chapter 2. Theoretical Background, which also encompasses a brief handling of the issues of culture and cultural differences.
In Chapter 3. Research Methodology and Methods, the corpus of analysis of this dissertation is presented and the key questions and variables discussed. Both the former and the latter constitute the main elements of the methodology.
As for Chapter 4. Findings, the results of the examination of the corpus are exposed. The following chapter, Analysis of Findings, consists of a detailed study of the various aspects, which are verified with basis on the key questions. In addition, Chapter 5 revolves around the corroboration – or refutation – of the hypothesis. Final discussions, relevant research recommendations and conclusions are comprised in Chapter 6. Discussion and Conclusion.

2.     Theoretical Background

 

This dissertation is based on two main theoretical areas. The first consists on the philosophy of kaizen, related to Japanese management techniques and their theoretical background. The second theoretical part refers to cultural studies, specifically of intercultural character. Both parts are presented in the next two sections. In the section 2.3, the research question and hypothesis can be found.

2.1.        Kaizen


Kaizen is the key to Japanese competitive success. It evolved from statistical quality control and quality management techniques taught by Americans managers while helping Japan to recover and rebuild Japanese manufacturing industry after WWII. Having these teachings in mind, the Japanese went on to develop the concepts of total quality management (TQM). This concept went beyond quality of products to embrace quality throughout the entire enterprise. 'The foundation for their TQM strategy was a concept called kaizen.' (The Manufacturer US 2002, [online])



Figure 1 – The meaning of Kaizen
Gemba-Kaizen




Source: Gemba Research 2006 [online]
As Masaaki Imai explains in his book "Kaizen – the key to Japan's competitive success", 'Kaizen means improvement. Moreover, it means continuing improvement in personal life, home life, social life, and working life.' (Imai 1986, p xx) Kaizen is a continual improvement that involves managers and workers alike at the work place.
‘Using the term kaizen in place of such words as productivity, TQC, ZD (Zero Defects), kamban, and the suggestion system paints a far clearer picture of what has been going on in Japanese industry. Kaizen is an umbrella concept covering most of those "uniquely Japanese" practices that have recently achieved such worldwide fame.' (Imai 1986, p4) Also, team work, personal discipline, improved morale, quality circles, suggestion for improvements, Just-in-Time and zero defects are some and most important techniques in putting kaizen to function. (see 12Manage 2006, [online])
'The starting point for improvement is to recognize the need.' (Imai p. 9) From the moment a problem is identified, a solution can be searched for. If no problem is identified, there is no need for improvement. If one believes he has no problems, he will never need to apply kaizen. 'Therefore, kaizen emphasizes problem-awareness and provides clues for identifying problems' (Imai 1986, p 9)
The continuous improvement suggested by kaizen means also waste elimination and management of standards. 'Improving standards means establishing higher standards. Improvement can thus be broken down into kaizen and innovation.' (El Kahal, Business in the pacific 2001, p146) Moreover, kaizen is a process used in problem resolution. Once identified, problems must be solved by the utilization of several tools. Every time a problem is solved, the improvement reaches a new level. However, in order to consolidate the new level, this improvement must be standardized. This way, kaizen also requires standardization. (see Imai 1986, p9) Establishment of new standards might be seen as "small" innovations.
When it comes to the industry kaizen means reducing waste in the production site. Waste does not only mean the scrap which occurs after modeling one certain piece but it also means the way a worker uses his time, his tools and his knowledge. To work towards the philosophy of kaizen a worker, manager, the entire company has to be ready to use their experience of everyday life and to embrace the idea of improving something before it is necessary.
The Japanese way is a concept of process-oriented thinking. The idea behind that is that if performance has to be improved, the process has to be improved. It requires two parts to apply this. One is to improve performance and the other is to maintain the improved performance. This can be realized through education, training and discipline. Kaizen will not show an improvement which will happen at once but on a long term it will show a step by step overall improvement. (The Manufacturer US 2002, [online]) Like stated before, kaizen is people-oriented. This means that employees play a vital role in upgrading standards, as each suggestion given becomes once implemented to a revised standard. This is called Suggestion System, which is a concerted effort to involve employees in kaizen through suggestions. (see Imai 1986, pp14-15) The Suggestion System involves three stages: Firstly, employees are asked to give suggestions no matter how primitive. Secondly, managers back employees up through education so that they are able to provide better suggestions. And thirdly, after workers have got interested and educated, economic impact of suggestions becomes relevant. (see Imai 1986, p113)
Summarizing what has been said above about the relation of kaizen, processes and people, Imai asserts: 'Kaizen generates process-oriented thinking, since processes must be improved before we get improved results. Further, kaizen is people-oriented and is directed at people's efforts.' (Imai 1986, p16)
It is not necessary any kind of sophisticated techniques or state-of-the art technologies in order to apply kaizen. It also does not need great sums of money for its implementation. Nevertheless, common sense and a great amount of continuous effort and commitment are necessary. Kaizen, unlike innovation, which is technology and money oriented, is people oriented. It calls for a substantial management commitment of time and effort. (see Imai 1986, p24-25)
The kaizen approach is not just another management technique but it requires strategy, because it involves all people in the company, it takes a long time and results can be seen fairly soon. (see Warwick (ed.) 1996, pp59-60) This strategy is represented in figure 2: Figure 2 – Kaizen strategy
source: Warwick (ed.) 1996, p60
This figure shows the relation between the concepts systems and tools of kaizen. This approach stresses, in addition to customer orientation and leadership involvement, people culture. That is why in this dissertation the influence of culture in the implementation of kaizen assumes an important role.
As it can be seen, kaizen is customer driven – which means it targets improvement of quality and costs in order to satisfy the customer –, it requires leadership involvement and commitment – because without proper guidance and incentive it would not work – , and it is somehow related to people's culture. This relation with culture will be further studied in this present work.

 

2.2.        Culture


The theories of Hofstede and Hall serve as basis to elaborate the analytical part of this dissertation. These theories are here presented:
Hofstede's theory is considered a classic in the field of culture, cultural competencies and intercultural matters. Originally his theory was based on an employee opinion survey at IBM, involving 116.000 people from 40 different countries. His work is still under development, nevertheless most points have been proved right.
According to him, people carry mental programs which are clearly expressed in different values that predominate among people form different cultures. Hofstede found five dimensions along which the dominant value systems can be ordered.
The first dimension is Power Distance. Power Distance Index (PDI) indicates the level of equality or inequality existent in a society. A low PDI is a sign that the differences between people's power and wealth are de-emphasized. Contrarily, a high PDI indicates that inequality is more present. This index describes the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. The functioning of each particular society depends on a certain degree of human inequality. However, the degree of acceptance of such inequality varies. (see Hofstede 2001, pp 79-143).
Individualism (IDV) is the second dimension identified by Hofstede and refers to the degree of individualism/ collectivism in a specific society. Collectivist societies value personal relationships and collectives. These have what is called low individualism. High Individualism characterize cultures that typically emphasize individual goals, initiative and achievements. (see Hofstede 2001, pp209-278)
MAS, Masculinity, is the third of Hofstede's dimensions. It is related to the level of gender differentiation in a society. In high Masculinity ranking countries, power structure is dominated by males, while females are left to a second plan. Strong/ corrective behavior, assertiveness, competitiveness and tough attitudes are some of its characteristics. On the other hand, a country where females are considered equal to males has low Masculinity degrees. The value on such societies tends to differ from the Masculine ones in points such as: security, quality of life and good relations. (see Itim International 2003 a, [online])
The next dimension is called Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI). This refers to the degree of tolerance to ambiguity and uncertainty in a society. High UAI indicates low tolerance, while low UAI indicates a lack of aversion to risks and to new ways. (see Tomioka & Jackson 2004, p 21)
His fifth dimension is Long-Term Orientation (LTO) which indicates whether members of a society are willing to accept/prefer immediate benefits or long-term rewards for their effort. ( see International Business Center 2006, [online])
According to Hofstede's theory, all countries can be positioned between the poles of each of these dimensions. Their scores are independent from each other and may occur in all possible combinations.
While Hofstede's analysis is a comparative one, Hall's study tends to focus on specific cultures in isolation (emic approach) (see Tomioka & Jackson 2004, p17). In addition, Hall's theory is different from Hofstede's on the treatment of culture: according to Hall, culture is all about information, how it is created, exchanged, processed and stored.
In order to be able to compare cultures, some conceptual tools were indicated by Hall: time, context, space, and information flow.
Regarding time, Hall distinguishes between monochronic and polychronic cultures. In monochronic cultures, time is experienced and used in a linear way; it is segmented, scheduled, and compartmentalized, so that people concentrate on doing one thing at a time. Polychronic cultures, on the other hand, are characterized by the simultaneous occurrence of many things and human transactions are more important than schedules. These two systems are hardly combined and practically impossible to mix. (see Schneider & Barsoux 2002, pp 45-46)
Context is the information that surrounds an event. People from high context cultures do not use many words to express themselves; most of the information is already in the person's gesture, in the behaviour, in the context. 'High context cultures are those where members generally do not expect a significant amount of information to be made explicit" (Tomioka & Jackson 2004, p 24). In a low context culture, information must be given in an explicit way, i.e., information must be verbalized in detail to be efficiently exchanged.
Space, for Hall, refers to the space each person has around him/her, as if an invisible bubble surrounded this person. This bubble may expand or contract depending on a number of things, such as, relationship to people, emotional state, cultural background, and activity being performed.
According to Hall, there is a connection between culture and Information Flow. Depending on the culture people give and hold back information. In polychronic cultures, information flows freely within a peer group, moving rapidly. However, the flow of information is very restricted between groups. In monochronic cultures, information flows slowly, delayed by rigid compartmentalization.

 

2.3.        Research question and hypothesis


These two theoretical fields – that involve Japanese management techniques and cultural influences on work relations – serve as the background for the research in this dissertation. The main question to be answered by this research is: Do cultural differences between Germany and Japan influence the application of kaizen?
The main initial assumptions are that the cultures of Japan and Germany are very different from each other and, therefore, the application of kaizen in two companies that operate in each of these countries must be also unlike. Being so, these assumptions constitute the hypothesis.



3.     Research Methodology and Methods

As explained in the previous chapter, the research question of this dissertation is the following:
Do cultural differences between Germany and Japan influence the application of kaizen?
In order to provide a satisfactory answer to this question, a research has been performed using the sources presented below:

3.1. Sources


The corpus of analysis of this dissertation consists of the websites of the two companies: Toyota and Bosch. Both sites are of great value due to the fact that it is crucial to analyze the information made public by the companies in this media. Since communication is one of the main drives of the Production Systems of these companies, the information to be found in their websites embodies the beliefs and philosophy of the companies.
It is important to highlight that not all the information in the websites is used, but rather the resources that deal specifically with their Production System and application of kaizen. Those provide the information necessary to answer the key questions of this dissertation. Also, all brochures and other downloadable files available through the websites were considered as part of the corpus. Besides, the websites visited and cited were offered both in the countries' language (German or Japanese) and in English language. Thus, since the information in these websites correspond, the English language websites were relied on.

 

3.2. Method


The qualitative analysis of the corpus above focuses on the implementation of kaizen at Toyota and at Bosch. The analysis of the corpus has the purpose of providing resources for making clear to which extent differences and similarities took place in these two companies, and whether such differences have relation to cultural divergent aspects.
The examination of the corpus is presented in Chapter 4. Findings where the corpus is studied and findings presented. In order to verify the research question, in Chapter 5. Analysis of Findings, the findings are tested against key questions, as follows:
(1) Are there significant cultural diversities between Germany and Japan?
(2) Is Kaizen applied differently by Toyota and by Bosch?
(3) Do correlations exist between cultural differences and differences in the application of Kaizen?
The first question is dealt with based solely on secondary sources. This means that only information made available by other authors is applied.
Key question number (2) is answered by applying the following criteria:
-         Understanding and importance of kaizen;
-         Implementation of principles and tools, and
-         Objectives.
In other words, in order to verify whether kaizen is applied differently by Toyota and by Bosch, it is necessary to check to which extents the understanding and importance of kaizen, principles and tools, and objectives are similar. Are BPS and TPS different interpretations of the same philosophy?
Key question number (3) is answered by comparing the answers of questions (1) and (2). Answers to questions (1) and (2) do not depend on each other. This means that even if one of them is answered negatively and the other positively, question (3) can still be applied.
Answers to these questions are to be found in Chapter 5. Analysis of Findings, conclusions and contributions offered by the results are presented in Chapter 6. Discussion and Conclusion.

4.     Findings

The Kaizen related information found on the websites of Toyota and Bosch is described in the next two sections. The findings will be discussed in Chapter 5.

4.1       Toyota


The following Figure represents the Toyota Production System, which 'is built on two main principles: "Just-In-Time" production and "Jidoka."' (Toyota Georgetown 2005, [online]). As it can be identified from the picture, Kaizen – or Continuous Improvement – is in the center of this system. All other tools, objectives, and techniques revolve around Kaizen.
Figure 3 – The TPS House



Source: Liker K. L., & Morgan. M. J. (2006). Figure 1 page 7
 
 




Source: Liker  & Morgan 2006, Figure 1 p 7
'TPS is maintained and improved through iterations of standardized work and Kaizen.'(MAS Southwest 2006, [online])
In addition, the TPS is immersed in 'the philosophy of the complete elimination of all waste and imbues all aspects of production with this philosophy in pursuit of the most efficient production method.' (Toyota 2006 a, [online])
Kaizen is defined as 'a system of continuous improvement in which instances of Muda (waste) are eliminated one-by-one at minimal cost.' (Toyota Georgetown 2005, [online]).  All employees, rather by specialists, are responsible for implementing kaizen. (see Toyota Georgetown 2005, [online]).
Muda is translated as waste, but in fact it means 'non-value added.' (Toyota Georgetown 2005, [online]). It refers to activities, processes that do not add value to the product. Seven types of muda were identified in Toyota’s website: overproduction, waiting, conveyance, processing, inventory, motion and correction. (see Toyota Georgetown 2005, [online]).
'Daily improvements' and 'Good thinking, Good products' are the mottos behind the TPS. (see Toyota 2006 a, [online]) Furthermore, all Toyota production divisions are making improvements to the TPS day and night to ensure its continued evolution.' (Toyota 2006 a, [online])
In Figure 3, it is possible to identify the two main pillars of TPS: Just-in-Time and Jidoka. These concepts are explained bellow:
Just-in-Time 'refers to the manufacturing and conveyance of only "what is needed, when it is needed, and in the amount needed."' (Toyota Georgetown 2005, [online]). In other words, Just-in-Time consists of producing 'only what's needed and transferring only what's needed.' (Public Affairs Division, Toyota Motor Corporation 2003, [online]) Its basic principle is the Pull System. In a pull system the worker is asked to think in order to  'come up with a manufacturing process where [...]he or she alone must decide what needs to be made and how quickly it needs to be made.' (Public Affairs Division, Toyota Motor Corporation 2003, [online])
Jidoka 'refers to the ability to stop production lines, by man or machine, in the event of problems such as equipment malfunction, quality issues, or late work.' (Toyota Georgetown 2005, [online]) Being so, jidoka helps the prevention of defects, the identification and correction of problem areas by localizing and isolating the problem. Jidoka makes it possible to "build" quality at the production process. At Toyota, jidoka 'enabled great improvements in quality and freed people up to do more value creating work than simply monitoring machines for quality'. (MAS Southwest 2006, [online])
In other words, jidoka consists of '"automation with a human touch," as opposed to a machine that simply moves under the monitoring and supervision of an operator'. (Toyota 2006 b [online])

Figure 4 – The Concept of Jidoka
concept
Source : (Toyota 2006 b, [online])
Figure 4 explains how jidoka takes place. It is important to highlight that jidoka is applied in order to generate daily improvements, or, in other words, in search of Kaizen.
Since the immediate identification of problems results in the improvement of the production processes in the long term, 'Ohno [Former Executive Vice-President of Toyota Motor Corporation] was unconcerned about the consequences of stopping the entire line'(Toyota 2006 c, [online]). In Ohno's words, Jidoka is a 'result of the spirit of Kaizen […] which the plant workers shared and which the Toyota family around the world continues to share today in all aspects of its work.' (Toyota 2006 c, [online])
'Standardized work is essential to identifying where things go wrong, Minoura [Toyota's Managing Director of Global Purchasing] says. When the problem becomes clear this will lead to Kaizen'. (Public Affairs Division, Toyota Motor Corporation 2003, [online])
Otherwise stated, standardization is a fundamental characteristic of TPS. Through the standardization of processes, it is possible to apply jidoka with the objective of implementing kaizen.
TPS 'organizes all jobs around human motion and creates an efficient production sequence without any Muda.' (Toyota Georgetown 2005, [online]) Work organized in such a way is called standardized work. It 'consists of three elements: Takt-Time, Working Sequence, and Standard In-Process Stock.' (Toyota Georgetown 2005, [online])
In order to improve the production as a whole, the company has the objective of preventing mistakes. 'Tools, including the kanban (information card), andon (display board), and poka yoke (error prevention) were developed to implement the pull system'. (Public Affairs Division, Toyota Motor Corporation 2003, [online])
Whenever a mistake or problem is identified, employees are advised to ask themselves "why?" five times. This helps them to 'find the root cause, and […] get rid of that [so] it'll never happen again.' (Public Affairs Division, Toyota Motor Corporation 2003, [online])
Workers are also aware of the fact that:
If a problem is left unsolved and the supervisor is uninformed, neither kaizen nor cost reduction can be applied. When there is trouble, stopping the machine means also identifying the problem. Once the problem is clear, kaizen becomes possible. (Toyota 2006 c, [online])
It is important that the problems or defects are identified in the production process and not in the final product, in order to avoid muda. 'However hard you examine a defective product, it doesn't improve the process.' (Public Affairs Division, Toyota Motor Corporation 2003, [online])
As cited in the website, the greatest strength of its system is the way TPS develops people. (see Public Affairs Division, Toyota Motor Corporation 2003, [online])
In Minoura's words, 'An environment where people have to think brings with it wisdom, and this wisdom brings with it kaizen (continuous improvement).' (Public Affairs Division, Toyota Motor Corporation 2003, [online]) He continues saying that 'there can be no successful monozukuri (making thing) without hito-zukuri (making people)'.  In his opinion it is important to think on the development of people who can come up with ideas. (Public Affairs Division, Toyota Motor Corporation 2003, [online])
The importance of teamwork is emphasized in TPS, as the following quotation proves:
Everything we do at Toyota is a chain of processes.  As members of Team Toyota, we must make the chain of Toyota strong.  We do this as we seek to understand and own the process, and continuously work to improve the overall flow.  It is through teamwork and caring for our teammates that we keep the links together.  Our diversity with a common purpose is what maintains the strength of these links.  If we follow Kiichiro's wise counsel and do our work with "the most sincere effort," the links that make up the Toyota chain will always remain strong and never break. (Toyota 2006 c, [online])
The objectives of TPS are made clear in the top of the House (Figure 3): 'Best Quality – Lowest Cost – Shortest Lead Time – Best Safety – High Morale, through shortening the production flow by eliminating waste' (Liker & Morgan 2006, Figure 1 p7)

4.2.        Bosch

The Principles of BPS are illustrated in Figure 5:
Figure 5 – Bosch  Production System (BPS) – Principles
Source: F4A/P-BPS, Bosch 2001, p1
These principles summarize the whole production system, including its objectives and driving forces.  They are all related to kaizen, since, as stated in the figure, 'there's nothing that cannot be improved on'.
For Bosch, kaizen is a 'Japanese term for the constant improvement of products, flows and processes (development, manufacture, sales and administration), as well as the aspect of human activities in small steps. (kai=change; zen=good, for the best).'  (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS. 2006, p22) Put differently, 'Kaizen means change in small, though ambitious, but realistic steps. In the long run, this is much more promising than a spectacular operations package.' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p 24)
Moreover, kaizen plays a central role in the implementation of BPS:
A fundamental requirement for the successful implementation of BPS is, above all, striving for constant improvement (Kaizen). "Constantly" should thereby be taken literally. The deciding factor is not the number of work shops, but the constant vigilance and observation of our environment. Where do we see the forms of waste? Can the processes in production, as well as in administration, be improved further? Being able to live out this attitude is a question of the corporate identity […] (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p24).
'BPS is a holistic approach' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS. 2006, p 5), which means it reaches the whole company in all levels and processes. Through BPS, 'not only partial processes and departments, but all course and organizational units are optimized.' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p5)
Bosch advises their employees to 'immediately and promptly, independent of the execution of projects, grasp the central ideas of BPS in your daily surroundings', in order to 'develop and deliver the right part at the right time in the right amount and with the required quality. Everything else is a waste' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p 5). Established quality standards, controlling and customer requirements are not disregarded, but Bosch assumes that 'no customer will mind if "his" product is produced quicker and better.' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS, 2006, p6)
Taking into consideration that high inventories generate costs and cause problems, Bosch adopted what is called the pull principle. Using this tool, 'production and logistics are only triggered in the value chain when current internal or external customer demand is present'. (Bosch 2006, [online]) Using the above mentioned technique together with a simultaneous introduction of continuous-flow production and the synchronization of production and logistics, Bosch was able to reduce throughput times and inventories to a minimum. 'Our aim is to be able to produce in customer cycle-time according to customer-driven demand'. (Bosch 2006, [online]) These transparent and self-regulating systems facilitate production planning and control.
A Quick Response System was also implemented at Bosch. This system consists of 'fixed procedures or flows in a business, regularly supported by optical or acoustic signals, which allow a quick reaction regarding mistake occurrences in the flow of production.' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p23) The signals might be replaced by equipment on the machines, which have the function of stopping them immediately, if a mistake occurs.
Regarding identified deviations, employees are advised to 'find the cause […] by using the five times „why?"'. (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p6) This is a 'method of asking questions with the goal of, not only curing symptoms, but getting to the bottom of the actual cause.' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p22) Normally, the actual cause is not found 'until a „why?" question is repeatedly answered, and „why?" is asked again.' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p22)
Bosch is guided by the goal "zero errors". Prevention to errors has priority over error detection. 'Effective error detection through consistent process protection is only carried out where necessary' (Bosch 2006, [online]). Using a combination of preventive measures and cycles of rapid control, repetition of errors is avoided and a top first-time-throughput rate is achieved. This way, the employee workload is also reduced.
The Japanese term "Poka Yoke" can be explained as prevention of mistake, as Poka means mistake and Yoke, prevent, avoid. 'Poka Yoke is a method that installs the quality and safety in a (production) process'. (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p22) As an example one could cite some relevant tools or devices such as the neck diesel/unleaded.
'We consistently adopt proven solutions. Our standards are based on the "best-in-class" principle and are not static – i.e. they are subject to continual further development.' (F4A/P-BPS, Bosch 2001, p4) Put otherwise, standardization is a fundamental part and prerequisite for controlled processes and flexibility.
Regarding waste elimination and continuous improvement, Bosch has the following motto: 'There is nothing that cannot be improved on.' (F4A/P-BPS, Bosch 2001, p4) The standards that have been attained become basis for future improvements. 'Through continuous improvement and consistently avoiding waste, we can achieve and secure controlled processes.'  (F4A/P-BPS, Bosch 2001, p 4)
In reality, avoiding waste can be considered as the main topic at BPS. 'Waste – Japanese "muda" – is everything that is useless to our customers, which they therefore do not want to pay for.' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p7)
Seven types of waste are mentioned in the brochure given to Bosch's personal: overproduction, stock, space, movement time, transport, waiting periods, and repairs/errors. 'We need to develop a feel for recognizing waste in our day-to-day work, and learn how to proceed against it!' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p7)
Bosch advises workers to 'independently adjust improvements within the team and quickly put them into action. (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p6) At the same time, executives are counseled to 'remove bureaucratic barriers and provide resources.' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p6) In this way, people are involved in the improvement process and empowered to operate changes. This brings personal responsibility, which means that responsibility and authority are assigned directly to the process level. Necessary space and qualification opportunities are made available to all levels.
When work groups are self-organized, personal responsibility is strengthened even more. We are able to tap the creativity and know-how of our staff. Areas of responsibility are clearly defined and known to all associates. Everyone knows his or her contribution to overall success. (Bosch 2006, [online])
The objectives of BPS are the increment of customer satisfaction – through the improvement of quality –, of value contribution – through lowering costs and shortening production time – , and of employee satisfaction – through reliability and transparency of production. (see F4G/P-BPS, Bosch 2002, [online])


 

5.     Analysis of Findings

Answers to the key questions proposed in the methodology are attempted in this section.

5.1. Key question (1)


In order to verify whether there are significant cultural diversities between Germany and Japan, only secondary sources are used. This means that only information made available by other authors is applied. The theories of Hofstede and Hall, cited in Chapter 2. Theoretical Background, are the starting point of this analysis.
According to Hall, time, context, space and information flow are characteristics that helps one to study a specific culture. Considering his definitions of these characteristics, one could affirm that in Japan, time is perceived to progress cyclically, while in western cultures time is seen as linear and progressive. (see Tomioka & Jackson 2004, p66) Being so, while Japanese are polychronic, Germans are monochronic. (see Eco-European Career Center. 2003, [online])
In addition, Japan is a high-context culture when compared to Germany, which means that 'The Japanese talk around the point' since they believe the others will be able to 'discover the point of the discourse from the context' (Hall 1983, p63) Western cultures such as Germany, on the other hand, tend to be low-context (Rosenberg, Beyond Intractability 2004, [online]) which means that persons give the mass of the information in the explicit code.
Space indicates that Japanese people probably have a bigger 'bubble' than German do. There are evidences that people who live on an island need more personal space due to the lack of geographical space. (Schneider & Barsoux 2002) Continental people like Germans have, in turn, a smaller 'bubble' then Japanese.
Information flows differently in Japan and in Germany. In Japan information flows freely within a peer group, moving rapidly, but is very restricted between groups. In Germany, information flows slowly, delayed by a more rigid compartmentalization. (see Tomioka & Jackson 2004, p27-28)
As already explained, according to Hofstede's theory, all countries can be positioned between the poles of each of these dimensions. Their scores are independent from each other and may occur in all possible combinations.  Since the information made available by Hofstede is given in numbers, it is very illustrative to see it in a graphic.
Thus, in the graphic and table below, the rankings of Japan and Germany in the five dimensions established by Hofstede in his research are presented:

Figure 6 – The 5D Model of Prof. Geert Hofstede applied for Japan and Germany
Source: (Itim International 2003 b, [online])
Table 1 – Table of Prof. Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture Scales
Country
Power Distance
Individualism
Uncertainty Avoidance
Masculinity
Long term orientation
Germany FR
35
67
65
66
31
Japan
54
46
92
95
80
Source : (Spectrum Troy University 2006 [online])
Being so, based on these values, it is possible to affirm that Germany has a lower PDI, a higher IDV, a lower MAS, lower UAI and much lower LTO than Japan.
According to the theories of Hall and Hofstede, Japan and Germany are countries of which cultures are very distinct. The former is a collective, masculine and long-term oriented culture, where uncertainty is avoided and power distance plays a role. At the same time, it is a high-context, polychronic, long-term oriented culture. Germany, on the other hand is low-context, monochronic, and short-term oriented culture. Power distance and masculinity do not play such an important role in this European country.
Nevertheless, considering the fact that 'Germany was Japan's chosen model for social, political and industrial development' (Tomioka & Jackson 2004, p69) both before and after WWI, it is possible to affirm that cultural influences might have been exchanged.  Germany was seen by Japanese as 'the most reliable source of high-quality heavy and precision engineering goods and technologies' (Tomioka & Jackson 2004, p69), while Japan represented a 'new and open market […] willing to import German goods to the exclusion of other nationalities' (Tomioka & Jackson 2004, pp69-70).
The following excerpt makes clear the possible affinities between the Japanese and the German cultures:
There appears to be an enduring affinity between the two work cultures: the value ascribed to hard work; the experience of recovery from economical and political disaster; the focus on quality in terms of precision, accuracy and reliability, particularly in export-oriented industries such as manufacturing and engineering. (Tomioka & Jackson 2004, pp69-70)
Thus, it can be affirmed that the Japanese and German cultures are different, but one should not oversee the fact that they do have similarities, especially on the matter of work culture. Being so, the first key question - Are there significant cultural diversities between Germany and Japan? – , has been answered positively, with remarks.

5.2. Key question (2)


In order to analyze the findings presented in the previous chapter, such findings are tested against the key question number (2) proposed in the methodology chapter. This question is copied here:
Is kaizen applied differently by Toyota and by Bosch?
This question is going to be answered by applying the following criteria:
-         Understanding and importance of kaizen;
-         Implementation of principles and tools, and
-         Objectives.
First of all, it is important to stress that the definition of kaizen found in Toyota's and Bosch's websites are extremely alike, if not identical. The same way, the importance given by these companies on the development of their production systems is similar: Kaizen is the fundament of both BPS and TPS.
Taking into consideration the Toyota's Production System House, it is possible to see that kaizen is the central and leading philosophy that gives origin to all other tools and techniques applied by Toyota. At Bosch it was made clear that 'a fundamental requirement for the successful implementation of BPS is, above all, striving for constant improvement (Kaizen*)' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS. 2006. p 24), as acknowledged in their brochure.
In addition, the implementation of kaizen at Toyota and at Bosch assumes a holistic approach. As clearly expressed in one of Bosch's brochures:  'BPS is a holistic approach' and 'not only partial processes and departments, but all course and organizational units are optimized.' by BPS (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p5) Toyota's approach is not made clear in the company's website, but if one relies on second hand information, the holistic characteristic of TPS can be evidenced. According to Witzel, TPS is 'all-embracing, including every department in the company' and is not limited to production. (Witzel, The Financial Times 2002, Aug19)
Being so, the first criterion, understanding and importance of kaizen, has been fulfilled. Otherwise stated, the definition and importance of kaizen are the same when considering TPS and BPS.
It is important to verify whether the next two criteria are also met. Is the application of the kaizen philosophy the same in TPS and BPS?
Based on the information found, it is possible to affirm that both companies rely on similar principles when implementing kaizen.  These principles are presented in Figures 4 and 6, namely the Toyota Production System House and the Bosch Production System (BPS) principles.
The TPS presents two main pillars: Just-in-Time and Jidoka, which received different names, respectively Pull Principle and Perfect Quality in the BPS, but are essentially the same.
Both companies also have the same goal of reaching a zero error level and both apply the tool Poka Yoke that prevents errors instead of just correcting them. When a mistake is identified both companies apply the 5 times "Why?" technique. That way Toyota asserts that it is possible to get to the root of the problem and 'once the problem is clear, kaizen becomes possible.' (Toyota 2006 c, [online]) Similarly, at Bosch this 'method of asking questions with the goal of, not only curing symptoms, but getting to the bottom of the actual cause.' is also applied with the same purpose. (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p22)
To prevent errors means also to eliminate waste. Both companies identify seven types of waste. Toyota's are: overproduction, waiting, conveyance, correction, inventory, motion and processing. (see Toyota Georgetown 2005, [online]) Bosch's types of waste are: overproduction, waiting periods, transport, repairs/errors, stock, movement time, and space. (see Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p7). Even though the terms to refer to the sorts of waste are different, they correspond mostly. The difference lies on the fact that while Toyota identifies processing as a type of waste, Bosch identifies space (surface area) as one of them. Although this difference exist, it is clear that both companies apply a great effort to eliminate waste.
Likewise, both production systems seem to work to in a way that defects and problems are identified in the production processes instead of in the final products. It is clear that both companies put emphasis on the process rather than on the final products, which is very well expressed by: 'However hard you examine a defective product, it doesn't improve the process.' (Public Affairs Division, Toyota Motor Corporation 2003, [online])
Standardization of work and processes is a strategy used in both TPS and BPS, helping the identification of mistakes and their consequent correction through kaizen. Standardization is a fundamental element of TPS and BPS and guarantees continuously improving quality.
The involvement and creativity of people are appraised by Toyota and Bosch.  As cited in Toyota's website, 'an environment where people have to think brings with it wisdom, and this wisdom brings with it kaizen (continuous improvement).' (Public Affairs Division, Toyota Motor Corporation 2003, [online]) In like manner, Bosch promotes associate involvement and empowerment. (see Bosch 2006, [online]) Both companies value teamwork: at the same time that it appears in the TPS House, Toyota states that 'it is through teamwork and caring for […] teammates' that the company can work as a unity. (Toyota 2006 c, [online]) Similarly, it is made clear by Bosch in expressions such as 'my processes are stable and in tune with those of my coworkers. We have a common goal and are pulling the same cord' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p4) and 'Standard flows allow for eased teamwork, and free us from mistakes.' (Robert Bosch GmbH, AE/P-BPS 2006, p4)
Being so, the second criterion, implementation of principles and tools, has been fulfilled. Put otherwise, the implementation of principles and tools by Toyota and Bosch is the same. However, difference exist, namely in the classification of waste, which can be said to be of no significant importance.
When comparing the objectives of TPS and BPS, from appearances alone, one could say that such objectives are discordant. Nevertheless, when observing in an attentive manner, one realizes that the verbalization of their purposes is different, but conveys mostly the same information. While the  objectives of TPS are best quality, lowest cost, shortest lead time, best safety, and High Morale (see Figure 3) , the objectives of BPS are the increment of customer satisfaction (through the improvement of quality), of value contribution (through lowering costs and shortening production time), and of employee satisfaction. (F4G/P-BPS, Bosch 2002, [online]) Thus, only the 'best safety' objective of TPS is not present in BPS.
Therefore, the third criterion, objectives, has been partially fulfilled. Put otherwise, the objectives targeted by both Toyota and Bosch are mostly the same, just expressed in different ways. One objective, though, is missing in BPS.  This does not mean that Bosch oversees the need of providing safety in production and products: Bosch follows the guidelines of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), U.S. Department of Labor, General Industry Standards, Series 1910 (Bosch 2005, [online]) and gives safety of products top priority (such as cited in Bosch 2006 a, [online])
Answering the second key question, 'Is kaizen applied differently by Toyota and by Bosch?' by the application of the criteria cited above, it is possible to affirm that kaizen is applied similarly by both companies.

5.3. Key question (3)


In order to examine question number (3) – Do correlations exist between cultural differences and differences in the application of Kaizen? – it is necessary to rely on the answers of questions (1) and (2). As explained in the methodology, key question number (3) is answered by comparing the answers of questions (1) and (2). These answers are independent from each other, which means that it does not matter if answers (1) and (2) are positively or negatively answered, key question number (3) can still be discussed.
Actually, this is the situation found: while key question (1) has been answered positively, key question (2) has a negative answer. Recapitulating: key question (1) has been positively answered, with remarks: the two cultures are significantly different, but have some common ground. And key question (2) has been negatively answered: there are no significant differences in the application of kaizen by Toyota and by Bosch.
This situation seems to be puzzling, but instead, it is significative: the concomitant presence of cultural differences and of similar application of kaizen is a proof that cultural differences do not play the most important role on the implementation of management techniques.
Being so, even though key question (3) cannot be answered in the way it has been formulated, it is possible to reach a logical conclusion: the co-existence of cultural differences and the lack of differences in the application of Kaizen is a proof of the fact that they are independent from each other.
As a conclusion of this chapter, it is possible to affirm that this analysis was useful for:
                                   i.         sustaining the original assumption that the cultures of Japan and Germany are different from each other, 
                                  ii.         proving false the original assumption that the application of kaizen in two companies that operate in each of these countries must be also unlike.
                                 iii.         refuting the original hypothesis of an existing correlation between cultural differences and implementation of kaizen.

 

6.     Discussion and Conclusion

The starting point of study and analysis of this dissertation were the theoretical studies regarding the application of kaizen and the issues of culture and cultural differences. These were presented in Chapter 2. The corpus of analysis and the methodology and methods of this study were presented in Chapter 3. They are fundamental for the understanding of this dissertation.  A close examination of the corpus is to be found in Chapter 4, while its analysis and the verification of the key questions and hypothesis are in Chapter 5.
At the end of Chapter 5 the main inferences reached through the analysis of findings are indicated. These inferences are: the cultures of Japan and Germany are different from each other; the application of kaizen in the two companies observes are not unlike; and cultural differences not always hinder the implementation of management techniques.
This correlation between kaizen and culture has also been established, though through a completely different study, by Malloch. In his words: 'Kaizen cannot be seen as organizationally neutral' (Malloch 1997:120) due to the fact that it redistributes power, and offers management much control of the effort bargain by recasting the rules that regulate the effort reward bargain. This means that at the same time that it affects the distribution of power, it has impacts on employees' earnings, job status and future career progressions. 'These factors seem to be much greater impediments to its [kaizen] implementation than the softer obstacles such as 'culture' (Malloch 1997:120)
On the other hand, Muffatto may have offered another explanation for the above-mentioned inferences. Cultural and social differences between Japan and Germany, might have been so leveled in the last decades that they do not play such an important role in any aspect of management and leads to uniformity and stability of production.   (see Muffatto 1999 p 23-24)
In the early 1990s many European and American firms adopted a lean type system.[…] Since the lean system is also a mechanism for social organization it obviously influences the social context of the country where it has been adopted. […] Compared with the 1980s, when the differences between Japanese and Western firms in terms of both performance and culture were significant, the 1990s opened with a levelling out of this competitive difference, even though differences remained. The fact that social change in Japan became faster in this period is another reason why the differences were reduced. Both these factors reveal a tendency towards greater uniformity in production methods and, as a result of this uniformity, also greater stability. (Muffatto 1999 p 23-24)  
This reminds the remark made on the affirmation that the Japanese and German cultures are different: one should not oversee the fact that they do have similarities, especially on the matter of work culture.
Being so, either cultural differences exist but do not influence the implementation of kaizen; or the differences between cultures have been leveled out in the last decades to a certain level that they cannot offer any influence. This is matter for further research, since thorough cultural studies, analyses, and comparisons between the German and Japanese culture are missing and could be of great profit for international business management.



 

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Appendix