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Cost of quality usage and its relationship to quality system maturity

Victor E. Sower (College of Business Administration, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)
Ross Quarles (College of Business Administration, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)
Eric Broussard (Chevron Deep Water Exploration and Projects, Houston, Texas, USA)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Article publication date: 13 February 2007



The purposes of this study are to examine the relationship between the distribution of quality costs and the level of maturity of an organization's quality system, to assess the extent to which effective COQ systems and maturing quality systems affect organization performance, and to determine why some organizations do not utilize COQ systems.


A survey instrument was developed to determine the distribution of total quality cost among the four ASQ categories. The instrument also assesses the maturity of the organization's quality system using the ANSI/ISO/ASQ Q9004‐2000 performance maturity level classification system. Correlation analysis was used to examine the relationships between quality costs and quality system maturity.


External failure costs were found to decline as a percentage of total cost of quality (COQ) as an organization's quality system matures. Total COQ was found to increase as an organization moved from a very low level of quality system maturity to a higher level. Sales and profit growth were not significantly correlated with the presence of a quality cost system or with the level of maturity of the quality system. Lack of management support was found to be the most common reason why organizations do not systematically track quality costs.

Research limitations/implications

Additional research is needed to determine the relationship between the presence of a COQ system and its effective integration with the quality system and organizational outcomes. Future research is needed to expand the study beyond the boundaries of the USA. Future research involving longitudinal studies would be beneficial in more accurately assessing the nature of the changes in COQ distribution over time.

Practical implications

The findings of this study suggest that organizations planning to implement a COQ system should ensure that management supports the program and is prepared for a short‐term increase in total COQ. These findings also support the often‐suggested expectation that in the long run the COQ system will lead to a significant reduction in external failure costs.


Systematic measurement of COQ is underutilized in practice. This study systematically examines why this is the case. In addition the study provides information that can be useful in justifying implementation of COQ measurement systems.



Sower, V.E., Quarles, R. and Broussard, E. (2007), "Cost of quality usage and its relationship to quality system maturity", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 121-140.



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Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited