Workers, Managers, and Productivity: Kaizen in Developing Countries

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Productivity and quality are key factors responsible for developing countries to succeed in international markets, and particularly, enter global value chains.

“Kaizen” is a Japanese management technique widely adopted in Japan as an effective practice to achieve enhanced quality and productivity. However, empirical exploration of its effectiveness in developing countries remains limited.

This open access book presents how Kaizen has been introduced and disseminated in developing countries. Furthermore, it assesses the effectiveness of Kaizen for large companies as well as for micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises. Several chapters focus on how Kaizen addresses industrial policies and firm capabilities, thus creating a learning society and addressing income inequality. The volume contains case studies from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brazil, Mexico, Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Africa.

Kaizen does not seek to improve productivity through investments in machinery but through reduction in cost and elimination of waste, overloading, and inconsistency in production processes. The book contends that “Kaizen may be more comprehensively understood as the improvement of quality, productivity, safety, and sustainability,” because the elimination of overloading and inconsistency improves the safety of workers and reduces the burden on environment.

This book is the result of JICA-RI/GDN Joint Research Project "Quality and Productivity Improvement in the private and public sectors – Roles and Lessons from Kaizen Approaches." Editors include Hosono Akio, senior research advisor at the Japan International Cooperation Agency Research Institute (JICA-RI), and Shimada Go, visiting scholar at the JICA-RI. Contributors include Jin Kimiaki, a JICA-RI staffer and member of the Kaizen research project; Katai Keiji, Industrial Development and Public Policy Department at JICA; Suzuki Momoko, Africa Department at JICA; Sakamaki Eriko, Secretariat of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers at JICA; Ishigame Keiji, Yokohama International Center at JICA; and Homma Toru, a senior advisor at JICA.

Joint Research Project
HOSONO Akio, John Page, Go Shimada
Date of issuance
February 2020
Palgrave Macmillan
Number of pages
327 page
978-981-15-0363-4 (Hardcover)
978-981-15-0364-1 (eBook)
Research project