Urban Legends Across the Pacific

Quality system auditor and ASQ member Dennis Arter reports that colleagues have recently sent him copies of an article "Managers Executed for Shoddy Quality" because of his close association with the quality profession in China.

The article tells of a Chinese refrigerator factory where managers were purportedly taken out back and shot because of their preference for production over quality.

Arter says he was skeptical. Even though the article supposedly came from the Wall Street Journal and copies showed a specific date, it sounded to him like some of the urban legends that continue to make the rounds in the United States.

"Many readers have seen these--the little boy who wants get-well cards from around the world or the man who wakes up in a tub of ice with a kidney missing, and they're all fake," Arter says.

So, Arter asked the ASQ Quality Information Center to conduct a search. Within a week, Sharron Manassa, a research and information librarian, sent a reply. She said, "I have searched the full-text WSJ index back to 1981 and several other major newspapers. I looked at more than 40 individual articles. None of them in any fashion resembled the article you sent to me."

Manassa also sent him a list of periodicals that were searched, and Arter says he confirmed the thoroughness of the investigation, agreeing that the story about Chinese executions for poor quality was just another urban legend.

Arter is currently planning his third trip to China, feeling safe in assuming that while the Chinese are attempting to improve the quality of their products, they are not making factory managers "step out back."

NIST Baldrige Videos Available From ASQ

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released videos showcasing the Baldrige National Quality Program on videotape or CD-ROM.

Available from ASQ, item T1076 is a cassette containing four videotapes: the long and short versions of the 1998 Quest for Excellence XI conference video in addition to A Journey Worth Beginning, which encourages organizations to apply for the award, and A Uniquely Rewarding Experience, which profiles the volunteer examiners who evaluate applicants.

The Quest for Excellence XI video features the strategies of the 1998 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award winners--Boeing Airlift and Tanker Programs, Solar Turbines Inc., and Texas Nameplate Co. Inc. T1076 costs $20.

Item T1084 at $20 consists of a CD-ROM featuring all four videos along with Baldrige business, health care, and education criteria.

Item T1045 at $49.95 includes the Quest for Excellence XI proceedings binder, the cassette containing the four videotapes, and the CD-ROM.

To order call ASQ at 800-248-1946 or (414) 272-8575.

OSHA Drafts Ergonomics Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a draft Ergonomics Program Standard. This is the first step of a process that is expected to result in an ergonomics standard in the year 2000.

The draft will be reviewed for its impact on small business before the agency publishes a formal proposal in September. After that, comment periods and public hearings will be scheduled. The draft is available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov.

OSHA says more than 647,000 Americans suffer serious injuries and illnesses due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders each year, accounting for more than 34% of all lost-workday injuries and illnesses and costing employers $15 billion to $20 billion in direct workers' compensation costs.

The standard is based on ergonomics programs that have already been proven successful at many companies, according to Charles N. Jeffress, OSHA adminstrator.

Midsize Manufacturers Predict Good Times

A survey conducted in February by Fleet Capital Corp., the Glastonbury, CT, commercial lending arm of Fleet Financial Group, indicates that chief financial officers (CFOs) of midsize manufacturers predict a healthy economy and strong revenues for the rest of 1999.

About 85% of the respondents believe the nation's economy will expand or stay the same, 75% think their revenues will grow, while 15% predict they will stay the same. About half expect labor costs to increase, but 62% don't expect to raise product prices.

Of the 74% that sell to foreign markets, 60% anticipate an increase in foreign sales. Nearly one-fourth have completed Y2K compliance programs, but more than half say they have only a small amount of work to do.

A majority think financing costs will stay the same, while 17% predict an increase. Most of the midsize manufacturers expect to use bank financing (68%) or internal sources (63%) to fund their growth.

Fleet Capital completed interviews with 300 CFOs from a random sample of manufacturers with revenues between $25 million and $500 million.

First Internal Auditor Training Courses Accredited

The first four quality management systems training courses for internal auditors earned accreditation under the National Accreditation Program, a joint program of the Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB) and the American National Standards Institute.

Course providers receiving accreditation are Applied Quality Systems, Inc., St. Paul, MN; Excel Partnership, Inc., Sandy Hook, CT; Global Quality Institute, Inc., Brampton, ON; and OMNEX, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI.

For information, call RAB at 888-722-2440 or (414) 272-3937, ext. 7335.

short runs

The Institute of Quality Assurance (IQA) in London, England, announced the sudden death of Donald Campbell on April 15. Campbell had been IQA secretary general since 1992 and was a member of the Executive Council of the European Organization for Quality.


Two new judges have been named to the 1999 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award judging panel. They are David J. McClaskey, senior technical associate at the Eastman Chemical Co., and Vicki L. Spagnol, president of Management Insights.

Quality Web Watch


This site introduces the Multinational Alliance for the Advancement of Organizational Excellence, which resulted from a meeting of academic researchers in November 1998. The group's stated goal is to "create and identify a critical mass of ideas and foster an international community of interdisciplinary scholarship focused on organizational excellence."


This site is ASQ's Virtual Quality Network, a worldwide directory of products and services related to quality and continuous improvement programs. It features a search engine and links and offers on-site registration for companies or individuals who want to be included.

Excellence in Mississippi at http://www.exinms.org

This site tells about a program sponsored by Mississippi's State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, major state universities, the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development, and many major businesses that promote and recognize quality efforts.

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