The Impact of Quality Management Practices on Performance and Competitive Advantage


  • Barbara B. Flynn is an associate professor of operations management at Iowa State University. She holds an A.B. in psychology from Ripon College, an M.B.A. from Marquette University and a D.B.A. in operations management from Indiana University. Her previous publications have apeared in Decision Sciences, Journal of Operations Management, International Journal of Production Research, and other journals. Her current research interests include quality, JIT and operations strategy. Professor Flynn's research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Center for Innovation Management Studies, the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and the U.S. Department of Education. She has held leadership positions in the Decision Sciences Institute, the Academy of Management and The Institute of Management Science.

  • Roger G. Schroeder is a professor of operations management and codirector of the Quality Leadership Center at the Curtis L. Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. He received a B.S. and M.S.I.E. degree in industrial engineering from the University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. in operations research from Northwestern University. He is on the faculty Minnesota Executive Program and has consulted with many public and private organizations. Professor Schroeder is the author of the textbook Operations Management, published by McGraw-Hill. His research has been funded by the Ford Foundation, the Exxon Education Foundation, the American Production and Inventory Control Society, the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and the National Science Foundation. His current research interests include strategy in operations management, quality improvement and management of technology.

  • Sadao Sakakibara is a visiting assistant professor of operations management at Keio and Gakushuin Universities, Tokyo, Japan. He holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Aichi Institute of Technology, Japan, an M.S. in operations research, an M.A. in statistics, a professional degree in industrial engineering and a doctorate in management systems, all from Columbia University. His research interests are comparative evaluation of manafacturing practices between Japanese and U.S. firms in topics related to JIT, quality management, manufacturing strategy and technology. Professor Sakakibara has previously published articles in Journal of Operations Management, Production and Operations Management, Business Horizons, and other journals. His research has been funded by the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and the National Science Foundation.


As decision makers become more involved in implementing Total Quality Management, questions are raised about which management practices should be emphasized. In this exploratory investigation of the relationship of specific quality management practices to quality performance, a framework was constructed. It focuses on both core quality management practices and on the infrastructure that creates an environment supportive of their use. In addition, it incorporates two measures of quality performance and their role in establishing and sustaining a competitive advantage.

Path analysis was used to test the proposed model, with multiple regression analysis determining the path coefficients, which were decomposed into their various effects. Weak linkages were eliminated. The trimmed model indicated that perceived quality market outcomes were primarily related to statistical control/feedback and the product design process, while the internal measure of percent that passed final inspection without requiring rework was strongly related to process flow management and to statistical control/feedback, to a lesser extent. Both measures of quality performance were related to competitive advantage. Important infrastructure components included top management support and workforce management. Supplier relationships and work attitudes were also related to some of the core quality practices and quality performance measures.

The results were interpreted in light of Hill's concept of order winners and order qualifiers and Garvin's eight dimensions of quality. They indicate that different core quality management practices lead to success in different dimensions of quality, and that those dimensions function differently as order winners and order qualifiers.