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Pay‐off selection criteria for quality and improvement initiatives

Natcha Thawesaengskulthai (Industrial Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand)
James D.T. Tannock (Nottingham University Business School, Nottingham, UK)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Article publication date: 18 April 2008




The variety of possible quality management (QM) and continuous improvement (CI) initiatives and their various possible permutations can make it difficult for a company to choose the best approach for their requirements. This paper aims to address the selection issue by presenting a method to compare popular QM and CI initiatives from the perspective of the pay‐offs, or expected benefits, to an organisation which successfully adopts the approach.


The relevant QM and CI literature was analysed, examining key initiatives and their reported pay‐offs to the organisation. A matrix diagram approach is introduced which presents the extent and credibility of arguments advanced for these initiatives, in seven categories of pay‐off. A system of assessment is proposed, which quantifies the extent and weight of empirical evidence and estimates the strength of the claim for each pay‐off.


The pay‐off matrix summarises the claims in each of the pay‐off categories, assesses their credibility, and displays the similarities and differences for six key initiatives: total quality management, six sigma, ISO 9000, business process reengineering, lean and business excellence. Graphical pay‐off profiles are presented. Significant differences between the claimed pay‐offs for these initiatives are identified, analysed and discussed.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed matrix and assessment system attempts to support a comprehensive and rational approach to assess the pay‐offs of QM and CI initiatives. As with any analysis of literature, there is inevitably an element of selection, but this approach consciously attempts to avoid omission and promote objectivity. The analysis is based on articles published between 1990 and 2005. Hence, new research and additional evidence may change the weight and credibility of claims.


This paper suggests a way in which evidence from the literature might be most effectively used by managers for decision support in the choice of quality and improvement initiatives. A similar approach might also be used for other areas, where businesses face choices and a considerable body of evidence exists to assist the decision‐making process.



Thawesaengskulthai, N. and Tannock, J.D.T. (2008), "Pay‐off selection criteria for quality and improvement initiatives", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 366-382.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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