QUALITY MANAGEMENT: UNIVERSAL OR CONTEXT DEPENDENT?

Authors

  • RUI SOUSA,

    1. Universidade Católica Portuguesa, 4169-005 Porto, Portugal London Business School, London NW1 4SA, United Kingdom
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      Rui Sousa is Assistant Professor at the Portuguese Catholic University Business School. He holds a Ph.D. in Operations Management from the London Business School and an M.Sc. in Operations Research from the University of Lancaster. His doctoral thesis has won the “2000/2001 European Foundation for Quality Management Ph.D. Thesis Award” (award for the best thesis in TQM). Sousa has also taught at the London School of Economics and the London Business School. His current research interests include quality management, manufacturing strategy and e-operations/ e-services. He is a member of POMS, DSI, and EurOMA.

  • CHRISTOPHER A. VOSS

    1. Universidade Católica Portuguesa, 4169-005 Porto, Portugal London Business School, London NW1 4SA, United Kingdom
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      Christopher A. Voss is Professor of Operations Management, Technology and Learning at London Business School. His current research includes the role of service in eBusiness, and managing service delivery in a multi-channel environment. Chris also leads the “International Service Study,” a multi-country study of service practices and performance. Recent publications include: “Developing an eService Strategy” published in Business Strategy Review and “Trusting the Internet” published by the Institute of Customer Service. As well as research, Chris is actively involved in teaching and case writing. He teaches several LBS courses on Service Management in the New Economy. Current case writing projects include a case study of the Dome and another on multi-channel service delivery in a UK bank. Professor Voss, who is also LBS Deputy Dean, Programmes, is a frequent speaker on eService at business conferences and was recently an adviser to the UK Cabinet Office group looking at the future of the Post Office.


Abstract

Quality management has often been advocated as being universally applicable to organizations. This is in contrast with the manufacturing strategy contingency approach of Operations Management that advocates internal and external consistency between manufacturing strategy choices. This article empirically investigates whether quality management practices are contingent on a plant's manufacturing strategy context, by examining the use of process quality management practices—a critical and distinctive subset of the whole set of quality management practices—across plants representative of different manufacturing strategy contexts. The study strongly suggests that process quality management practices are contingent on a plant's manufacturing strategy, and identifies mechanisms by which this takes place.

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