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Published by:
John F Kennedy School of Government (1993)
27 pages


This case follows the efforts of the commandant of the US Coast Guard to bring the culture of total quality management-one based on the individual initiatives of frontline employees-to a paramilitary, highly bureaucratic organization, one nonetheless considered to be effective. The case is designed to raise the issue of how to implement TQM, given the historic top-down decision-making structure of the Coast Guard. The case ultimately allows students to critique the approach taken, which relies heavily on the establishment of a series of new bureaucratic entities, chief among them the Coast Guard Quality Council.


Operations management; Organizational change; Re-inventing government; Total Quality Management (TQM)

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