All Theses, Dissertations, and Capstone Projects

Year of Award



Master of Business Administration (MBA)


College of Business & Professional Studies

Degree Program



Business Administration


Industry, Productivity, Management, Quality Circles, Japan, Participative Management


During the 1970's American industries faced a crisis regarding productivity. For the first time, foreign competition began to lead the United States in yearly productivity increases by dramatic margins. This trend of year-to-year gains in productivity by foreign countries resulted in losses of traditional American markets and an incalculable loss in jobs and competitiveness for American industry.

In order to recapture the competitive edge America once held, many companies were forced to reexamine their very basic philosophies of management in order to ensure long term survival. Authoritarian management began to be replaced with a more participatory style for a large number of American companies in an attempt to become more productive.

My thesis analyzes participative management within American industry. First of all, I have discussed the conditions in American industry that brought about a need for a change in management style. Included in this analysis is a discussion of how quality and productivity interact to determine the efficiency of an organization. I have also discussed several theories of human effectiveness in order to provide a theoretical basis for participative management.

In order to provide a historical perspective, I have traced the origins of worker involvement programs to Japan in the late 1940's. In this chapter I have also included a description of quality circles, the first practical application of participative management. I then discuss the valid criticisms and pitfalls concerning this new style of management. An analysis of strategies for implementation is provided in order to give guidelines for successful application of participative management programs in an American corporation.

Finally, I have included a case study of McDonnell Aircraft Company in order to demonstrate how an American corporation has changed its culture through participative management to become more competitive.

Document Type

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