van der Wiele, T. and van Iwaarden, J. (2006), "Guest editorial", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 23 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijqrm.2006.04023aaa.001Download as .RIS
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Ton van der Wiele is Associate Professor in Quality Management and Organisational Performance and Academic Director of the Master in Management Consultancy at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He received his PhD in 1998 from Erasmus University based on research related to fads and fashions in the area of business and management. His research interests cover quality management in relation to organisational change and performance improvement, and e-business related research. Ton has worked on quality management research projects in Europe, Australia and the USA and has also been involved in various projects of the European Commission, e.g. in India and Romania. He has published many papers in international journals and given presentations at various conferences. He was co-editor for the special issue on “Service excellence” of Managing Service Quality (June 2002). He is also reviewer for a number of journals in the field of quality management.
Jos van Iwaarden received a Master’s degree in Business Economics from the Rotterdam School of Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2002 on research about user perceptions of the quality of websites. He is now researcher at the Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM). He is finalising his PhD research, in which he focuses on increasing product variety and shortening product life cycles and their effects on management control systems. His research interests are in the field of quality management and management control, and also in the field of e-technology and its effect on business and management. He has been a visiting research fellow at the Manchester Business School of the University of Manchester, UK. He has published papers in international journals and presented research at various international conferences.
Quality management has become a well-known management philosophy, which has been adopted in many business sectors. Elements of the quality management philosophy have also been integrated in other fields of management thinking like management control and human resources management. There have been several attempts to describe the state-of-the-art of quality management thinking from an academic perspective, see for example Cole (1993), Dean and Bowen (1994), and Kim and Chang (1995). However, the current literature is very much focused on the implementation of the latest fads and fashions (Cole, 1999; Abrahamson and Fairchild, 1999) or various tools and techniques such as quality function deployment (QFD, see special issue of IJQRM Vol. 20 No. 1, 2005), Benchmarking, self-assessment and six-sigma. Based on research carried out in collaboration between the University of Manchester (UK) and the Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands), we believe that many organisations have lost sight of the basic elements of quality management.
Therefore, we decided to focus with a special issue on these basic elements of the quality management philosophy, which are:
customer focus or stakeholder focus;
process control; and
We invited authors to send in papers based on case studies, describing and analysing innovative examples of the way the three core quality management concepts have been implemented in companies and how those concepts are enforced and controlled throughout the organisation.
By means of such empirical research we tried to focus this special issue on questions like:
What does the quality strategy of the organisation look like?
What is the role of the three core concepts within the quality strategy?
How do organisations control their quality strategy?
What is the role of technology, people, processes, products and services?
The editors received some 25 abstracts, out of which 12 papers were selected, however, after the review process only six papers were accepted for this special issue.
The editors would particularly like to thank the reviewers for their valuable time and efforts to give feedback on all the papers submitted. We hope that the authors did appreciate the feedback and advice given to them.
The first article in this special issue is written by Victoria Konidari and Yvan Abernot who put the corner stones of quality management in the centre of a service organisation. This analyses the influence of movements coming from the world of industry and business on the management of schools, and the transition from quality management to organisational learning. It presents the findings of an exploratory research carried out in Greece, in order to detect both teachers’ attitudes and the existence of elements that could permit organisational learning. The authors propose a framework of organisational learning in education based both on the creation of teachers’ professional communities and on an organisational model composed of elements that can guarantee the institution’s learning, feedback, development and evolution.
Rodney McAdam, Shirley-Ann Hazlett and Joan Henderson aim with the second paper to analyse how critical incidents or organisational crises can be used to check and legitimise quality management change efforts in relation to the fundamental principles of quality. Their research question can be stated as:
How can organisations discover or rediscover quality management principles (i.e. continuous improvement, process management and customer focus) in times of crises?
Multiple case study analyses of critical incidents demonstrate the importance of legitimisation, normative evaluation and conflict constructs in this process. A theoretical framework composed of these constructs is used to guide the analysis.
In the third paper, Klara Palmberg and Rickard Garvare describe how Agria Animal Insurance Sweden (Agria) has organised its quality-related work by a sustained and systematic focus on basic elements of quality management such as value focused leadership, employee involvement, process management and control, customer focus and continuous improvement. The analysis shows that the top management at Agria has been a strong driving force that has effectively united leaders at all levels as agents of change. Additional success factors have been the deployment of basic values, and the value focused leadership. Furthermore, the company has succeeded in creating a cultural basis and structures for systematic work with improvements.
Clement Wong, Albert Tsang and T.S. Chung focus in the fourth paper on the reliability and maintainability of tunnel infrastructure and systems as an important factor in assuring normal operation of a tunnel. Evaluating availability of a large-scale tunnel that includes civil, electrical, mechanical and electronic systems is a difficult task. This paper presents a methodology for performing assessments in complex situations. The tunnel availability measures obtained by the analysis can be used in making comparisons between different tunnel designs so as to determine the value for money of various options. Furthermore, weaknesses in a tunnel design can be identified in the analysis. The information obtained from this method can also be used to evaluate adequacy, security and maintainability of a tunnel. The example shows how control can be improved in complex situations.
Steve Eldridge, Mohammed Balubaid and Kevin D. Barber in their paper examine the difficulties associated with quality costing and propose a solution based upon the use of knowledge management techniques. They use a widely available software tool to create a quality costing ontology based upon the prevention appraisal failure classification of quality costs. This ontology is used for the collection, processing, sharing and use of quality cost-related knowledge. The ontology was evaluated using case study data and compared with conventional approaches to quality costing.
These authors find that their quality costing ontology is easier and more efficient than conventional quality costing methods. It has greater capability in terms of the analysis and use of quality costing knowledge and overcomes the barriers to quality costing due to poor understanding and awareness.
In the sixth paper Jos van Iwaarden, Ton van der Wiele, Roger Williams and Barrie Dale study the effects of two trends (i.e. increasing product variety and shortening product life cycles) on quality management. In many industries (e.g. cars, electronics, clothing) manufacturing complexity and unpredictability have increased over the last couple of years because of an increasing variety of products and shortening product life times. At the same time the manufacturers in these industries appear to have more problems with maintaining high quality levels. This paper aims to develop a methodology to study the effects of these developments on quality management systems. The empirical part of the research has been undertaken at three European automotive manufacturers by means of a case study approach. Simons’ four levers of control model is utilised to categorise and interpret the results of the case studies. The application of such a management control model in the field of quality management is found to be useful in explaining what changes are necessary to maintain high quality levels.
Ton van der Wiele, Jos van IwaardenGuest Editors
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