Accreditation and Quality Assurance

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 130–141 | Cite as

The human factor in quality management

  • H. M. Ortner


 "Quality management is not just a strategy. It must be a new style of working, even a new style of thinking. A dedication to quality and excellence is more than good business. It is a way of life, giving something back to society, offering your best to others" (George Bush 1991).

From this statement it becomes immediately clear that the human factor plays an eminent role in quality management. Therefore, some important relevant aspects of quality management are highlighted which are not so frequently discussed elsewhere. Various definitions and statements on quality lead to the fact that quality depends essentially on people. Some thoughts are developed on the Japanese quality culture which contributed essential impulses to the evolution of certain quality installations such as quality circles. The Japanese also developed a philosophy of quality, Kaizen, which is significantly different from Western industrial quality concepts. Kaizen works well in a slow growth economy, contrary to Western innovation which is more suited to the fast growth economy of the past.

Some ideas on the quality control of top management as well as on the quality control of ourselves are expressed and it is shown how this is related to ethical principles. Every human society is as successful as: its intrinsic degree of honesty and righteousness, its degree of prevention of corruption and nepotism, and its readiness to work hard for personal advancement and for the sake of the community. Leadership, political or economic, is a special cultural effort – or at least it should be. But the striving for quality must be everybody's business in a company. It is the old 'pride of workmanship' which is greatly lost in today's industrial structures, and which is so absolutely important to again find satisfaction and contentment in our work. It is shown that the human factor in quality management, apart from all the necessary formal and institutional regulations, is of major importance, but very often neglected, especially in the present situation of over-rationalization. It is shown that dynamic equilibria do not only regulate chemical and biological systems but also operate in our psychic world. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to unhealthy extremes in the latter, e.g. to workaholics or neo-capitalism. Installations of total quality management such as systems, procedural and product audits are important facets of modern quality assurance. They are again closely related to human behaviour, as well as the procedure of company and laboratory accreditation. Finally the "Codex Hammurabi" shows that product liability was a clearly regulated issue in ancient Babylon, 2200 BC. This may be indicative of the fact that many new trends propagated by management gurus usually stem from a very old part of the wisdom of mankind but they are newly decorated and formed to modern slogans.

Key words Human factor Quality Quality management Top management Product liability Overrationalization 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. M. Ortner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Analytics, Faculty of Material Sciences, Darmstadt University of Technology, Petersenstrasse 23, D-64287 Darmstadt, Germany e-mail: H.Ortner@hrzpub.tu-darmstadt Tel.: +49-6151-166379 Fax: +49-6151-166378DE

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