Quality management practice: universal or context dependent? an empirical investigation

Sousa, Rui (2000) Quality management practice: universal or context dependent? an empirical investigation. Doctoral thesis, University of London: London Business School. OPEN ACCESS


Quality management has often been advocated as being universally applicable to organisations and organisations activities. This universal stance is part of the emergence of a new paradigm in Operations Management based on the assumption that the adoption of best practice in a wide range of areas leads to superior performance (the best practice paradigm). This is in contrast with the manufacturing strategy contingency approach in which the field of Operations Management has been strongly rooted from its inception, which advocates internal and external consistency between manufacturing strategy choices (the strategic choice paradigm). In addition, as quality management has matured, more recent rigorous academic studies have raised doubts as to the universal validity of its set of practices. Despite these tensions, there is still little empirical research conducted in quality management aimed at shedding light on the question: Are quality management practices contingent on a plant's manufacturing strategy context? This study investigates this question by examining, via case based research, the use of quality management practices across plants representing a range of different strategic contexts in the UK electronics industry. By selecting plants mature on quality from a single very competitive industry and controlling for process technology, the study aimed to isolate the effects of a plant's strategic context on quality management practice. Overall, the results suggest that although a few practices seem to be universally applicable, several others are strongly contingent on a plant's strategic context. The study also identifies mechanisms by which a plant's strategic context affects quality management practices. At a more general level, the study lends support to the existence of links between a plant's manufacturing strategy and the pattern of use of best practices. This finding is in agreement with the contingency view of the strategic choice paradigm and in contrast with the universalistic approach of the best practice paradigm.

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Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subject Areas: Management Science and Operations
Additional Information:

Thesis in 2 volumes: vol 1 (250 pages), vol 2 (299 pages)

Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2022 11:03
Date of first compliant deposit: 25 Feb 2022
Subjects: Quality control
Corporate strategy
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2022 17:14
URI: https://lbsresearch.london.edu/id/eprint/2395

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