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Understanding quality culture

Ulf Daniel Ehlers (Institute for Computer Science and Business Information Systems, University of Duisburg‐Essen, Essen, Germany)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 25 September 2009



The purpose of this paper is to develop a holistic understanding of quality in higher education which reveals the current debates about accreditation or quality process standards as insufficient, and to propose an enhanced model for quality culture in educational organisations.


The conceptual framework is based on relevant research in the field of quality development for education, and integrates it with a series of previously published works related to quality methodologies, quality literacy and quality as a multidimensional concept. Quality is approached from an educational science perspective, and is understood as a relationship among all the participants and resources of an educational scenario.


The paper establishes the foundation for a comprehensive understanding and analysis of quality culture in organisations, focussing on higher education. While this understanding of quality as part of the organisational culture seems to gain more importance there is still a lack of fundamental research and conceptual understanding of the phenomenon in itself. Quality development in higher education is often limited to bureaucratic documentation, and disregards the development of quality as an organisation's holistic culture. However, there is a need to focus on promoting a quality culture which is enabling individual actors to continuously improve their educational practice.


The original value of the paper is to approach quality development in higher education from an organisation's cultural perspective. When the conceptual foundations for empirical research are worked out, the professionals can benefit by understanding the interrelated nature of educational quality and organisational culture in higher education institutions.



Ehlers, U.D. (2009), "Understanding quality culture", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 343-363.



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