Quality management and sustainability : exploring stakeholder orientation

Abstract: In today's society, organisations are exposed to stiff competition, and wants and expectations might change rapidly. In order to survive, all organisations must meet wants and expectations from a number of actors who can cause the organisation to fail. These actors are called stakeholders. At the same time as organisations are struggling to survive and prosper, it has become increasingly important for everybody to act in a way that does not endanger global sustainability. In the last few decades a number of management systems have been introduced in order to facilitate for the management of organisations the task of promoting both organisational and global sustainability. In the present study, quality management, environmental management systems and stakeholder theory have been investigated in order to contribute to the knowledge of how an organisation can be managed in order to achieve both organisational and global sustainability. In order to conduct the research, an archival analysis of nine manufacturing Swedish companies was made in order to find out if their environmental performance had improved during the last decade and if such improvements could be linked to the certification of an environmental management system. A case study was also made in order to explore how organisations may be managed in order to achieve both organisational and global sustainability. The results of the research show that the investigated companies have improved their environmental performance, but the connection to the certification of the EMS is not apparent. The results also include a stakeholder model that could be suitable in order to integrate stakeholder theory and quality management. Organisational sustainability is argued be achieved if the organisation manages to endlessly satisfy or exceed the demands of its stakeholders. Where stakeholders are considered to be actors that: (i) provide essential means of support required by an organisation; and (ii) could withdraw their support if their wants or expectations are not met, thus causing the organisation to fail, or inflicting unacceptable levels of damage. The aim of a third generation of quality management could then be for the organisation to satisfy, or preferably exceed, the wants and expectations of its customers subject to meeting the demands of its other stakeholders, in order to fulfil the aim of the organisation. To also promote global sustainability, the organisation should aim to satisfy, or preferably exceed, the wants and expectations of its stakeholders without compromising the ability of other parties to meet their needs, both present and future. It is to be hoped that the proposed stakeholder model can be used in both existing and future management concepts in order to help companies to promote both organisational and global sustainability.