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Competence and capability in quality in the high-tech sector: an international comparison

Damien J. Power (Department of Management and Marketing, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 26 August 2014



The purpose of this paper is to compare Chinese high-tech firms with other international firms in terms of quality capability and competence.


This study uses data from the GMRG fourth round survey and provides a method for differentiating and empirically measuring quality competence and capability using a sample of 343 plants in 17 countries in the high-tech manufacturing sector.


It is shown that the theory of performance frontiers can be used to explain differences in levels of investment in quality management, as well as competence and capability, in plants across regions with varying levels of economic development. Further, it is shown that plants in China provide an example of a special case in that they do not display the same characteristics as plants in other emerging economies.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited to the high-tech sector and is also constrained by the countries in which the GMRG data has been gathered.

Practical implications

Investment in quality management methods may not always result in discernible variance in quality indicators. In this study this has been shown to be the case in plants in the industrialized world, highlighting the importance of developing a requisite proficiency in innovation. For the plants in China leverage may lie in focussing on how and where resources are being invested, and how quality management is actually valued within a plant.

Social implications

The study indicates that although some economies in the world may experience rapid growth this also needs to be tempered by a requisite investment in building human capability.


The evidence indicates that the plants in China in this study do not possess similar levels of quality competence and capability, and struggle to make investment in quality management alter outcomes.



J. Power, D. (2014), "Competence and capability in quality in the high-tech sector: an international comparison", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 34 No. 9, pp. 1184-1209.



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