question 1

Passage 37

Japanese firms have achieved the highest levels of
manufacturing efficiency in the world automobile
industry. Some observers of Japan have assumed that
Japanese firms use the same manufacturing equipment
(5) and techniques as United States firms but have bene-
fited from the unique characteristics of Japanese
employees and the Japanese culture. However, if this
were true, then one would expect Japanese auto plants
in the United States to perform no better than factories
(10) run by United States companies. This is not the case,
Japanese-run automobile plants located in the United
States and staffed by local workers have demonstrated
higher levels of productivity when compared with facto-
ries owned by United States companies.
(15) Other observers link high Japanese productivity to
higher levels of capital investment per worker. But a
historical perspective leads to a different conclusion.
When the two top Japanese automobile makers
matched and then doubled United States productivity
(20) levels in the mid-sixties, capital investment per
employee was comparable to that of United States
firms. Furthermore, by the late seventies, the amount of
fixed assets required to produce one vehicle was
roughly equivalent in Japan and in the United States.
(25) Since capital investment was not higher in Japan, it had
to be other factors that led to higher productivity.
A more fruitful explanation may lie with Japanese
production techniques. Japanese automobile producers
did not simply implement conventional processes more
(30) effectively: they made critical changes in United States
procedures. For instance, the mass-production philos-
ophy of United States automakers encouraged the
production of huge lots of cars in order to utilize fully
expensive, component-specific equipment and to
(35) occupy fully workers who have been trained to execute
one operation efficiently. Japanese automakers chose to
make small-lot production feasible by introducing
several departures from United States practices,
including the use of flexible equipment that could be
(40) altered easily to do several different production tasks
and the training of workers in multiple jobs.
Automakers could schedule the production of different
components or models on single machines, thereby
eliminating the need to store the buffer stocks of extra
(45) components that result when specialized equipment

1. The primary purpose of the passage is to

A present the major steps of a process
B clarify an ambiguity
C chronicle a dispute
D correct misconceptions
E defend an accepted approach