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Supply chain quality management in education

Cláudia S. Sarrico (ISEG Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal AND CIPES Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies, Porto, Portugal)
Maria J. Rosa (Departamento de Economia, Gestão e Engenharia Industrial (DEGEI), Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal AND CIPES Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies, Porto, Portugal)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Article publication date: 4 April 2016



The purpose of this paper is to introduce and discuss the concept of supply chain quality management (SCQM) in education. It then analyses a particular country case study in light of the concept, presenting empirical evidence of the challenges and good practices relating to it.


The empirical work is based on a country case study which includes data on four higher education institutions and nine secondary schools. Data are obtained from national and institutional documents, as well as from individual and panel interviews. The authors have used content analysis for both data and interview transcripts.


The authors find that whereas we can think of education systems as supply chains, there are important challenges to SCQM in education, namely, regarding information sharing, trust, integration and leadership. Conversely, the authors have found some ad hoc good practice which could be developed into more systematic SCQM practice.

Research limitations/implications

The study covers only a single case study, and a part of the education supply chain.

Practical implications

The work could inform policy makers as well as institutional leaders on practices that would improve the performance of the education supply chain.

Social implications

Education is a very important activity sector with a strong impact on the well-being of societies. Gains in education performance resulting from better SCQM in education would thus impact us all.


The paper offers a novel way of looking at the education system through the lenses of SCQM; if implemented it could significantly improve the performance of education systems.



This research has been part of the IBAR Project – Identifying Barriers in Promoting the European Standards and Guidelines of Quality Assurance at Institutional Level and Making Recommendations as to How These Might be Addressed. Research project financed by the Lifelong Learning Program, KA1 Policy Cooperation and Innovation, Contract: CZ-KA1-2010-4663-511491_10.1.2011. This research has also been supported by the FCT (the Portuguese National Research Council) through the project PEst-OE/CED/UI0757/2013 (which is funded by the Program COMPETE). The authors thank the other team members for their comments and suggestions and in particular Cristina Sin and Isabel Machado for their contribution to the transcription of the interviews.


Sarrico, C.S. and Rosa, M.J. (2016), "Supply chain quality management in education", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 499-517.



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