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Colección: La Educación
Número: (115) II
Año: 1993

5. W. Edwards DEMING. The New Economics for Industry, Government, and Education. Cambridge: Massachussetts Institute of Technology Press, 1993, xii, 240 p., notes, tables, figures, bibliography, index. Paper: $40.00.

Dr. Deming is known worldwide as one of the most important authorities in the field of quality management. The work of Dr. Deming is especially recognized as one of the main contributing factors in the development of the Japanese industry in the post-WWII era. The New Economics is the latest work presented by Dr. Deming and synthesizes his main ideas in relation to quality development. Dr. Deming emphasizes the need to consider quality as a main responsibility of management regarding production and service systems. Management is responsible for the production of services as the result of systems which are dependent upon the definition of specific purposes and aims. Management is also responsible for quality which depends on the capability of production processes to function as coherent systems. There are two main sources of losses of quality: problems that are caused by the production system and difficulties that can be attributed to special causes. Only a stable system can be controlled by increasing the reliability of production, reducing sources of variation, or changing the expected values of produced output. This implies that a system can be controlled only if it is possible to explain, in a rational way, the sources of variation in production.

To explain the sources of variation, it is necessary to have a theory for explaining the behavior of the production system. Finally, quality will be dependent on knowledge about the system and about the sources of variation. Quality is not produced by defining quotas or by simply stating objectives or goals. It is always necessary to link goals and objectives to specific strategies for attaining quality. Desired performance must be a function of cooperation among different components of the production system. Cooperation provides opportunities to increase gains in production. Quality development is essentially an educational task. It requires knowledge of the production system and cooperation for increasing opportunities to optimize the production process.

Dr. Deming’s ideas present a particular challenge to the development of educational quality. In particular, these ideas show the limitation of conventional ways of establishing educational goals and objectives. As Dr. Deming says, “joy in learning comes not so much from what is learned, but from learning.” Dr. Deming recommends abolishing: (i) grades (A, B, C, D) in school, from toddlers on up through the university; (ii) merit ratings for teachers; (iii) comparison of schools on the basis of scores; and (iv) gold stars for athletics or for best costume.

The New Economics is an interesting and demanding proposal for economists and managers; it is also a suggestive appeal to educators. Education as conceptualized by Dr. Deming is a subject of analysis and continuous improvement from the point of view of the concepts and methods linked to quality development.

Leonel Zúñiga M.