This article discusses the nature of quality achievement in industry. The characteristics of the Japanese approach to quality and management are examined, and the importance of employee participation and involvement in contributing to quality achievement is noted. In this context the South African business environment is considered, and a recent study by the author outlined. This study explored the participative approach to a quality programme which would serve as a catalyst for changing management style. The main features of a company‐wide quality programme are outlined, and the necessity for commitment by all levels of personnel – including top management – is emphasised. In South Africa a conservative management style prevails, which is not receptive to the idea of employee participation. Changes must therefore be made there if industry is to compete successfully in the world markets.
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