The purpose of the paper is to examine the binary character of total quality management (TQM) in food companies and to determine the impact of the two aspects of TQM – the “soft” and “hard” – on the quality management benefits.
A research project was carried out in 90 Greek food companies, using the questionnaire method. Two measurement models have been formulated. The first model includes the TQM philosophical elements and quality tools/techniques, while the second model includes the quality management benefits. Exploratory factor analyses are applied to extract the latent factors. The factors that significantly influence the quality management benefits are determined through multiple linear regression analyses.
The analysis of the models confirms the binary character of TQM (the “soft” and “hard” TQM elements) in food companies and the existence of internal and external quality management benefits. The “soft” TQM elements have a significant direct impact on quality improvement, employee benefits and customer satisfaction. However, the impact of the “hard” TQM elements on the above quality management benefits is not direct but indirect, through their significant correlation with the “soft” TQM elements. Finally, quality improvement is also a significant factor that directly influences employee benefits, customer satisfaction and business performance.
The small size of the sample of the responding food companies, the diversity of these companies and the subjective character of the data collected are limitations that suggest future research recommendations.
Food companies should realize the leading role of the “soft” aspect of TQM and the supporting role of the “hard” aspect in maximizing the quality management benefits and as a consequence in withstanding the current economic downturn.
Focusing on “quality-oriented” food companies that have ample experience in quality and food safety management systems, the present study reveals a significant direct impact of the “soft” TQM elements and an indirect impact of the “hard” TQM elements on the quality management benefits.
Psomas, E., Vouzas, F. and Kafetzopoulos, D. (2014), "Quality management benefits through the “soft” and “hard” aspect of TQM in food companies", The TQM Journal, Vol. 26 No. 5, pp. 431-444. https://doi.org/10.1108/TQM-02-2013-0017
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