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Factors that hinder quality improvement programs’ implementation in SME : Definition of a taxonomy

Luís Mendes (Department of Management and Economics, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal)
Luís Lourenço (Department of Management and Economics, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 11 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the following purposes: first, to identify/analyze the main factors that hinder quality improvement programs’ implementation in SMEs, and second, to test if the level of importance attributed to those factors differ according to firms’ dimension.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey was mailed to 600 Portuguese SME randomly selected. Out of the sample, a total of 95 questionnaires were completed and returned, performing a final response rate around 16 per cent.

Findings

Findings reached from this research, highlighted seven different factors affecting quality programs: top management's education/training level and priorities, costs and actual performance, lack of support from external agents, human resources’ overload, aversion to change, lack of resources, and culture and training. Furthermore, results suggest that these factors assume greater importance in medium-sized firms, compared to smaller ones.

Research limitations/implications

The research focused specifically on the Portuguese manufacturing sector; thus, particular attention should be paid in attempting to generalize results. Moreover it is recognized that further researches may consider exploring longitudinal research designs in order to gain additional insights into the dynamic nature of problems faced.

Practical implications

Understanding the main problems that hinder quality improvement programs’ implementation in SME may allow practitioners to plan more effectively their quality management system, especially faced with scarce resources.

Originality/value

Quality management issues focus essentially on larger organizations. This paper is the first attempt to systematize the main factors that hinder quality improvement programs’ implementation in small and medium sized firms.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge partial financial support from FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia).

Citation

Mendes, L. and Lourenço, L. (2014), "Factors that hinder quality improvement programs’ implementation in SME : Definition of a taxonomy", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 690-715. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSBED-03-2014-0054

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited