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A developmental view on implementation of quality management concepts

Ida Gremyr (Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden)
Mattias Elg (Department of Management and Engineering, HELIX VINN Excellence Centre, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)

International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences

ISSN: 1756-669X

Article publication date: 10 June 2014




The purpose of this paper is to examine the value of a developmental learning view on implementation of quality management (QM) concepts. QM concepts are common in various organizations; some implement them smoothly, others struggle and sometimes even abandon the initiatives. What is then a successful implementation – is it the use a specific QM method as a standard problem solving approach, or is it that learning has occurred during implementation?


The paper is based on an illustrative case study carried out at a hospital in western Sweden. The data have been collected through about 130 hours of participation in project work by the first author and through seven face-to-face interviews of about one hour each.


It is shown that a Design for Six Sigma pilot project with a narrow view on implementation could be regarded as a failure, but it gave rise to much learning and new improved ways of working. Hence, it is argued that a developmental view on implementation can support learning by an emergent and experimental approach to implementation processes.


Much research has been done on how to increase the success rate of implementations of QM initiatives, e.g. procedures to follow to reach an outcome where the new way of working is standard procedure. Less research has problematized the implementation process, questioning what a successful outcome of an implementation is.



Gremyr, I. and Elg, M. (2014), "A developmental view on implementation of quality management concepts", International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, Vol. 6 No. 2/3, pp. 143-154.



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