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A study on the Ishikawa's original basic tools of quality control in South American companies: results from a pilot survey and directions for further research

Jiju Antony (Professor of Quality Management, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
Olivia McDermott (College of Science and Engineering, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)
Michael Sony (Namibia University of Science and Technology, Windhoek, Namibia)
Marcelo Machado Fernandes (MF Operational Excellence, Itajubá, Brazil)
Renan Vilella Cardoso Ribeiro (Federal University of Itajubá, Itajuba, Brazil)

The TQM Journal

ISSN: 1754-2731

Article publication date: 9 March 2021

Issue publication date: 14 December 2021

794

Abstract

Purpose

The main purpose of this study is to revisit Dr. Ishikawa's statement: “95% of problems in processes can be accomplished using the seven quality control (QC) tools” from his book “What is Quality Control?”. The authors are interested in critically investigating if this statement is still valid nowadays. It involves the analysis of the usage of the seven QC tools in the manufacturing and service sectors and the benefits, challenges and critical success factors (CSFs) for the application of the seven QC tools.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to evaluate Kaoru Ishikawa's statement and how valid his statement is for manufacturing and service industries nowadays, an online survey instrument was developed, and data collection was performed utilising a stratified random sampling strategy. The main strata/clusters were formed by senior quality professionals working in operational excellence, quality consultants, quality directors, quality engineers, quality managers and quality supervisors working in both manufacturing and service sectors from South American companies. A total of 97 participants from different countries in South America responded to the survey.

Findings

The main finding of this study is that only about 20% of respondents felt that the original seven basic tools of QC can solve above 80% of quality related problems in their businesses. This is quite different from the findings reported by Dr Ishikawa in his work in between 1970 and 1980s. Another relevant finding presented in this paper is that Pareto analysis, histograms and cause and effect analysis are the most used tools in both manufacturing and service sectors. This paper also revealed that the seven QC tools proposed by Dr. Ishikawa were least used by human resources (HR), information technology (IT) and finance functions. This work presents a list of critical success factors required for the proper application of the seven QC tools.

Research limitations/implications

All data collected in the pilot survey came from professionals working for South American companies. So, this paper does present limitations in terms of generalisation of the results. Also, data were collected at an individual level, so parameters such as the inter reliability of judgements on a particular survey item could not be evaluated. It is important to highlight that n = 97 is a low sample size, enough for a preliminary survey but reinforcing the limitation in terms of generalisation of the results.

Originality/value

Authors understand that this is the very first research focused on challenging Dr. Ishikawa's statement: “95% of problems in processes can be accomplished using the seven quality control (QC) tools” from his book “What is Quality Control?”. The results of this study represent an important first step towards a full understanding of the applicability of these tools in manufacturing and service industries in a global scale.

Keywords

Citation

Antony, J., McDermott, O., Sony, M., Fernandes, M.M. and Ribeiro, R.V.C. (2021), "A study on the Ishikawa's original basic tools of quality control in South American companies: results from a pilot survey and directions for further research", The TQM Journal, Vol. 33 No. 8, pp. 1770-1786. https://doi.org/10.1108/TQM-01-2021-0004

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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