Quality management : National or global driving factors

Abstract: Around the world Quality Management is commonly regarded by industrialists and academics as a management concept that encompasses the potential in any organisation of developing into a company-wide philosophy with a profound focus on stakeholder values and improvement processes. However, there are mounting evidence that Quality Management has developed into an important strategic issue also on a national level, and that some leading industrial nations have enjoyed significant gains in the post War era by means of nation-wide progresses in Quality Management. In this thesis organisation is therefore substituted with nation state as the unit of analysis, with the ultimate objective to gain insight into how quality management movements in the industrialised world develop and prosper. Based on empirical data from the Cross-cultural Quality Management Research Project, a bird' s?eye view of Quality Management is taken in twelve leading industrialised nations. Comprehensive descriptions of Quality in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan and Sweden are given in order to identify what national driving factors that currently have an influence on national quality management movements, whereas China, Great Britain, Italy, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the United States are assessed on a more overriding level with an objective to determine the factors' scope and characteristics. The existence and influence of national driving factors in Quality Management was firstly discovered in the mid 1980s by one of the field's pioneers, Dr. Joseph M. Juran, and a core task in this thesis is to re-examine the identified factors current applicability. The outcome is a proposed set of national driving factors, embracing economy, national quality societies, people, certification bodies, industrial structure, organisation and its quality function, and government. Although, these national driving factors are found to be common to all countries, they are genuinely national in the sense that the national context by and large determines the factors' character and influence. To gain insight into how national quality management movements in the industrialised world develop and prosper, it is therefore recommended that focus be direct towards the national context with its national driving factors. The factors are powerful explanatory variables that so far have largely remained an untapped fountain of knowledge within the field of Quality Management.