Workplaces in Japan are well‐known for their cleanliness and orderliness. This results from the Japanese emphasis on training and discipline. The logic behind the 5‐S practice is that organization, neatness, cleanliness, standardization and discipline at the workplace are basic requirements for producing high quality products and services, with little or no waste, while maintaining high levels of productivity. Outlines results of an intensive questionnaire survey on about 3,000 companies in the UK and 200 leading companies in Japan with a response rate of about 12 per cent. Aims to determine whether the Japanese 5‐S practice has a significant contribution to the successful total quality management (TQM) implementation. The main finding from the 205 manufacturing and 106 services firms in the UK as well as 16 leading companies from Japan is that the 5‐S provides an essential total quality environment which is an important base for implementing TQM successfully. Inevitably, TQM training policy should incorporate the 5‐S practice guidelines.
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