The Continuous Improvement Process:

A Strategy for European Recovery & Prosperity



Process Improvement Japan had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Karoly Martinkó, Director of Alliance Jura-Hongrie Holding S.A, a Swiss firm investing in Hungarian financial business assets. He is also the Economic advisor on China to the Hungarian Ministry of National Development. Dr. Martinkó is based in Budapest, Hungary.

Above Photo: Dr. Martinkó right with Mr Bernard Ory, Managing Director of Alliance Jura-Hongrie Holding S.A left.

Dr. Martinkó spent 2 years in Japan as a scholar at Tokai University. His studies focused on Japan`s internationalization and emergence as a global superpower. During that time, he became intrigued by Japan`s process improvement mind set and methodologies.

The European Union - Kaizen is a Useful Tool

The E.U was established and developed to become a viable force in worldwide competition. But Europe is losing in the world game of competition. The biggest reason, Dr. Martinkó believes, is the loss of Europe`s manufacturing industries. "Cheap imports have killed our manufacturing sectors." He says. Now Europe is experiencing the consequences with high unemployment and associated problems. "Europe can take back their manufacturing industries." Dr. Martinkó asserts. "Methods that build on the continuous improvement process and the kaizen philosophy can form the basis of our recovery and development of competitive advantage. Kaizen as well as office kaizen offers tremendous opportunities for growth and development in an efficient and cost effective manner."

Hungary: Moving Forward

"Hungary is not in the best condition right now but in some respects, Hungary is doing much better than other countries in the E.U." Dr. Martinkó explains. The focus of the Hungarian economic policy is production and manufacturing. "We are still vulnerable but we are moving in a targeted direction."

Geographically, Hungary has advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, Hungary`s central location makes it the best hub for logistics and services. Hungary also has the largest sweet water reserves in Europe. On the down side, Hungary is sensitive to the changes in other countries and relies heavily on trade. "We must export to survive." Dr. Martinkó says.

Hungarians are very innovative and skilled. There is a lot of potential. Dr. Martinkó advises that, for Hungary and the E.U as a whole, re-thinking and re-building industry is vital.
Hungary`s strengths are:
1. Innovation
2. Services - Logistics in particular
3. R&D Activities
4. Alternative Energy

In terms of Foreign Direct Investment, Hungary is well positioned. "Hungary really is an ideal place for investors." Dr. Martinkó says. In terms of location, political stability, investment incentives and infrastructure, Hungary is definitely a place to consider. Audi, Denso, GM and Samsung Chiel Industries, among many other multinational corporations, have already established themselves in the outskirts of Budapest.

"We are weak in application and converting our research into products. We hope to be able to adopt Japanese lean production principles & the continuous improvement process in order to gain market share and competitive advantage. We see a great opportunity in office kaizen across the board, in all sectors." Dr. Martinkó explains.

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