QCs' effectiveness factors in public & private enterprises in India.

AuthorDasgupta, Ranjan
PositionQuality circles


Major environmental changes in late 1980s and early 1990s, such as liberalization policy, encouraged many Indian organizations to explore and experiment with work innovations and quality improvement initiatives in order to improve productivity and quality as well as to satisfy the psychological growth needs of people better. One such initiative is the Quality Circles (QCs). Hutchins (1985) observed, "Quality Circles are the most exciting and profound approach to have been established in the world since the advent of scientific management". As an approach to participative management, QC philosophy incorporates the idea that employees at all organizational levels want to be involved in decisions that affect their work, and, that those closest to a given job are in the best position to evaluate its problems and suggest potential solutions. Presently, QCs represent the dominant form for involving employees in improving manufacturing performance in various types of enterprises, irrespective of Public Sector Units (PSUs) or Private Sector Enterprises (PSEs), all over India including Kolkata and suburbs.

Though originally developed in the USA in the 1940s, the QC movement was formally introduced in Japan way back in 1962. In India, the QC movement was started in 1981 in the Ramchandrapuram Unit of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) (Udpa, 1986). Since then, QCs have spread to many types of organizations all over India. In Eastern India, QC movement came into force with its successful implementation in Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP), Durgapur in 1991-92. Some other notable PSUs and PSEs from Kolkata and suburbs practicing QC philosophy include National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Ltd., Farakka; Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) Ltd., Kolkata; Exide Industries Ltd. (EXIDE), Haldia; Mitsubishi Chemical PTA India/MCC PTA India Corporation Pvt. Ltd. (MCPI), Haldia; West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB), Kolkata; Kolkata Port Trust; etc. But QC's implementation does not guarantee effectiveness. It is therefore necessary to assess the factors responsible for the effectiveness of this organizational tool individually for PSUs and PSEs and comparatively in between such organizations.

The sample industrial enterprises in and around Kolkata selected for this study include three PSUs (DSP, Durgapur; GRSE Ltd., Kolkata and NTPC Ltd., Farakka) and two PSEs (EXIDE, Haldia and MCPI, Haldia). All of them have a history of successful and effective implementation of QC philosophy and QC practices for the last ten years. Many of the sample QCs have also been working for many years now.

Objectives of the Study

This empirical comparative study has the following objectives:

* Determine the criteria for assessing QCs' effectiveness based on literature survey and develop a model relevant for both PSUs and PSEs.

* Use the QCs' effectiveness model to develop a questionnaire and conduct a survey among the selected PSUs and PSEs in and around Kolkata.

* Extract the factors by using Principal Components Analysis (PCA) under Factor Analysis (FA) separately for PSUs and PSEs. This would help to find out the factors that have been responsible for QCs' effectiveness in such organizations as studied.

* Compare the model developed with the separately extracted factors for effectiveness.

* Recommend the requisite factors indispensable for QCs' effectiveness and suggest necessary steps for sample PSUs and PSEs to develop the QCs and QC movement further.


The literature on workers' participation and QCs was surveyed extensively to develop the QCs' effectiveness model relevant for both PSUs and PSEs of twenty-five factors. Thereafter, primary and secondary data were collected from 2004 to 2009 in three phases from sample PSUs and PSEs in and around Kolkata, using a range of techniques- focused oneto-one interviews, group interviews, observations, survey questionnaires (both pilot and final) and verification (or checking) of the documentary sources/evidence in regard to the QCs in operation.

Based on the primary data collected and the observations on the prevalent QCs activities in sample PSUs and PSEs in phase I, the questionnaire was developed for pilot survey in phase II. During phase II, the pilot survey questionnaire was administered among the QCs' members and leaders/deputy leaders (50% of sample QCs and its members were included) comprising 118 statements. Thereafter, a thorough analysis of the responses of pilot survey questionnaire was used to eliminate the less important statements for the final questionnaire survey in Phase III. In Recommendations of Guilford (1952) have been followed that at least three statements representing each factor of the QCs' effectiveness model (as developed initially) should be kept in the final survey questionnaire balanced with reliability estimation.

In phase III, the final questionnaire (comprising 96 statements and other general questions, totaling 100 questions) survey was conducted among 236 (214 from PSUs and 22 from PSEs) respondents (representing 118 QCs, i.e., two members from each QC, selected on a stratified basis and as per their availability) for further investigation and analysis of the QCs' effectiveness model. Only those active QCs which were more than two years of age (i.e., the honeymoon effect has gone) and solved at least two problems were selected. The questionnaire used a 5-point Likert Scale, ranging from 'Strongly Disagree' (= 1) to 'Strongly Agree' (= 5), to obtain primary data from the respondents. In this study, PCA under FA has been taken to find out the most significant (principal components) and influential factors as prevalent separately in sample PSUs and PSEs for making their QCs effective.

Literature Review

The literature on QCs has been largely non-empirical in nature involving successful and unsuccessful stories from varied organizational settings all over the world. Many formal studies on QCs deal with selected aspects of their implementation, outcomes and success or failure factors. This study has focused mainly on success or failure factors of QCs in the works of Dale (1984); Dale & Lees (1985); Ingle (1982); Lawler & Mohrman (1985); Mento (1982); Park (1991); Sen (2010); Sillince, Sykes & Singh (1996); Sodhi & Joshi (1995); Udpa (1986); White & Bednar (1983); etc.

In Indian context, QC implementation process and activities in different organizations (Dwivedi, 1987; 1987a; Jha, 1997; Mathew, 1985; Srinivasan, 1991; Udpa, 1985) and QCs' effectiveness evaluation in industrial settings (Dwivedi, 1987b; Khan, 1986; Vijaya Banu, 2007) were studied. However, no regional study of this kind in and around Kolkata was found. Hence, this study would be one of pioneering nature within this region. But many of the findings could as well be true of other regions or organizations in India.

The QCs' Effectiveness Model

In Japan, it has been reported that only 40 percent of organizations having QCs have been able to claim 100 percent effectiveness in QCs' working. In case of failure, causes must be identified and remedial measures should be taken to reactivate dormant QCs. It is also imperative for industrial enterprises (including the sample ones) and their managers to know and avoid these causes. Also, in case of success, the factors present and responsible should be identified and standardized. With this objective in mind, a model of QCs' effectiveness factors has been developed for further investigation and analysis.

The QCs' effectiveness model [twenty-five factors] includes:

* Top management commitment and support

* Organizational requirements and support

* Middle management commitment and support

* Employees' attitude and objectives in joining QCs

* Facilitators' commitment and support

* No resistance from trade union

* QCs members' commitment and support

* Provision of comprehensive training

* A minimum level of education, skills and knowledge of QC philosophy

* Main focus on voluntary participation approach

* Strong group dynamics

* Effective leadership in QCs

* Satisfaction with job and non-job factors in the workplace

* Adequate number of suitable problems/projects for QC

* Selection of simple problems/projects for QCs

* Regularity of QCs meetings and QCs activities

* Free-flowing and effective communication system

* Clear-cut QC objectives and logical expectations from QC groups

* Publicity and recognition by management

* Suitable reward schemes/system


To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT