Management Case Study Where the Rubber Meets Term Paper

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Management Case Study

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Total quality management (TQM), defined in the most simplistic of terms, is the incremental improvement of all facets of a business to increase customer satisfaction and, in turn, company viability. Although TQM is often applied first to manufacturing functions in an organization (zero defects, on-time production), the intent of TQM is equally meaningful in all aspects of business, from administrative (zero defects in billing and timely collection of accounts receivable), to distribution (no breakage, just-in-time delivery) to management (appropriate incentive structures, timely and accurate stakeholder reporting). The increased efficiency and competitiveness created through TQM initiatives is not limited to only the manufacturing sector, with many of the benefits of TQM occurring in the service sector, too.

In the case of Bridgestone/Firestone, TQM was not pursued prior to the recall of its 6.5 million tires in 2000, as evidenced by the magnitude of the defective products involved in the recall. If a TQM program had existed at Bridgestone/Firestone, the scale of
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the recall would have been significantly reduced or eliminated. A TQM initiative within Bridgestone/Firestone would have uncovered the improper processing of rubber at its plant in Decatur, Illinois over the nearly 10 years that inferior products were produced at this location. The inadequacy of a TQM program at Ford is also apparent. While the direct problem of tire blowouts rested with Bridgestone/Firestone and not with Ford, Ford should have been concerned with quality measurements such as 150 people killed in rollovers involving Ford Explorers with Bridgestone/Firestone tires on them. A functioning TQM program would not have rested on safety rankings alone, but instead would have forced quality improvements on its supply chain including Bridgestone/Firestone.

Typical tools for quality assurance, derived from criteria for the Baldridge Award program, include information and analysis (industry benchmarks), quality planning (setting goals), process quality management (creating products according to plans), quality results (measurements), and customer satisfaction. In Bridgestone/Firestone's case, process quality management is a critical tool for resolving the problem of…

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Case study: Where the rubber meets the road

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