Total-Quality-Management-Based Assessment of Kobe City's Life Recovery Assistance Programs for Victims of the 1995 Kobe Earthquake, Paper presented at 8th International Symposium on Natural and Technological Hazards (HAZARDS2000), on May 24, 2000, in Tokushima, Japan.




TQM(Total Quality Management)-based assessment of life recovery assistance programs was conducted four and a half years after the Kobe earthquake.  The objective of the assessment was 1) to extract and sort out new policy measures and programs that need to be taken, and 2) to provide measurable indices that would operationalize policy objectives so that levels of life recovery among various groups of Kobe residents will be constantly and objectively monitored.  The use of TQM tools allowed sorting out verbal data from Kobe citizens, stimulating creativity in identifying major constructs that explain recovery of everyday life, putting complex problems of life recovery into solvable form, and ensuring that nothing was left out when planning.  The assessment process involved utilizing three of the seven new quality control tools, namely affinity, relation, and tree.  Residents from Kobe's all nine wards and three special interest groups provided their assessment concerning life recovery from the earthquake at grass roots workshop sessions.  This yielded approximately 1,600 opinion cards.  Based on their affinity, the opinion cards were later conceptually clustered into seven mutually exclusive categories.  Those were homes, human ties, built environment, preparedness, mind and body, economy, and government responses.  Those seven categories turned out to be the most critical in assessing recovery of everyday life among earthquake survivors.  Among the seven categories, only homes and human ties contained more than 400 opinion cards.  This suggested that homes and human ties were the two most significant areas when people evaluated recovery of everyday life from the earthquake disaster.  Within each category, individual opinion cards were further grouped into about 20 or less subcategories.  Judges consisting of Kobe city program planners, community development consultants, university professors and graduate students analyzed causal relations and drew cause-effect arrows among those subcategories.  Those causal relations were then translated into a system of hierarchical tree diagram, which represented goals and their solvable means in a multi-layer fashion.  Out of tree diagram analysis, came a prioritized list of concrete actions that would enhance life recovery process among the impacted people.   The utilization of TQM method to assess and plan life recovery programs drastically differs from more traditional policy assessment and planning practices on the following points: 1) The TQM-based assessment allowed bottom-up integration of opinions from the impacted people.  This ensured that policy measures and programs would become more relevant to everyday feeling and practices among the impacted people.  2) The TQM-based planning of recovery assistance programs enabled active involvement of the impacted people in deciding policy directions.  A sense of involvement is a key factor to obtain stakeholders' acknowledgement and support of future government responses. 3) Traditional recovery assistance program planning was "product-out-oriented" and tended to emphasize interests on the side of program suppliers.  The TQM-based recovery assistance planning is "market-in-oriented" and emphasizes interests on the side of program consumers.   As Japan enters into a pluralistic and multi-stakeholder society, the market-in-oriented recovery policy planning will gain more public support.