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Exploring inter‐departmental barriers between production and quality

Louise J. Suckley (Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Ilfryn Price (Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Jason Sharpe (Medico, Sheffield, UK)

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

ISSN: 2046-6749

Article publication date: 23 August 2013



The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the value of adopting an organizational ecological perspective to explore behavioural barriers in a UK operations & production management (OPM) setting.


An ethnographic case study approach was adopted with a narrative ecological stance to deconstruct the perceived realities and the origins of the inter‐departmental barriers applying Scott‐Morgan's unwritten rules methodology.


Despite an improvement in the physical proximity of the production and quality control departments, the qualitative approach revealed that latent, socially constructed drivers around management, interaction and communication reinforced inter‐departmental barriers. Conflicting enablers were ultimately responsible derived from the organizational structure, which impacted the firm's production resources.

Research limitations/implications

As a case study approach, the specificity of the findings to this OPM setting should be explored further.

Practical implications

The paper demonstrates the use of theoretical frameworks in a production and manufacturing organization to provide insights for maximising process effectiveness. Using the organizational ecological perspective to uncover the socially constructed unwritten rules of the OPM setting beneficially impacted on operational effectiveness.


The paper contributes to organization ethnography literature by providing a detailed empirical analysis of manufacturing and services behaviour using an organizational ecology perspective. The example demonstrates that “qualitative” research can have real world impact in an advanced operational context. It also contributes to an ecological or complex adaptive systems view of organizations and, inter alia, their supply chains.



Suckley, L.J., Price, I. and Sharpe, J. (2013), "Exploring inter‐departmental barriers between production and quality", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 173-190.



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