Managing quality in the Chinese context: case studies of Shanghai manufacturing industries

Qiu, Yun (2009) Managing quality in the Chinese context: case studies of Shanghai manufacturing industries. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Most ideas of industrial Quality Management (QM) originated in the USA and Japan, and have since spread globally. New QM models and concepts have been developed, disseminated and adopted (or indeed adapted) in many countries. Considering the evolution QM thinking over the last few decades, many QM models and concepts involve both 'hard' and 'soft' aspects. The former may involve use of procedures and a range of tools and techniques; whereas soft aspects are concerned with human factors such as culture. Much current literature in the QM field tends to emphasize the hard aspects. The author, however, argues that it is important to understand and investigate the soft aspects (particularly the organizational culture and management practices, the relationships between QM and culture) in an organization, which are key success factors for successful QM implementation.

On the other hand, many researchers have studied QM dissemination and adoption phenomena from the perspectives of both management fashion and diffusion theory. Following Abrahamson (1996), this research proposed that QM initiatives can be considered as management fashions, disseminated from 'fashion-setter' (i.e. the supply side) to 'fashion-consumer' (i.e. the demand side), and the impact and results being influenced by various adoption factors. While trends in academic and professional publication rates related to QM initiatives can help to identify fashionable approaches on the supply side, there was lack of empirical evidence to explain the behaviour of 'fashion-consumers' on the demand side, in an international context (e.g. why do managers adopt certain QM tools? What are their criteria for decision-making on QM adoption?).

This research aimed to explore the behaviour of 'fashion-consumers', so as to fully understand the QM dissemination and adoption process, in a Chinese context. Because of its economic importance, large manufacturing industry and distinct culture, China plays an important role in the global supply chain, and has attracted academic interests from various fields. Therefore, the author focused on the . management of quality in Chinese manufacturing industry; to provide insights into the relationships between QM, organizational culture and national culture; and explain the phenomenon of dissemination and adoption of QM from the perspective of Chinese fashion-consumers, based on multiple case-studies of Shanghai manufacturing industry. The research was based primarily on interviews with managers at six case-study companies, supplemented by interviews with quality experts and professionals. The Competing Values Framework (CVF) was used to characterize organizational culture, in the context of this primarily qualitative study.

The key outcomes of this research relate to: 1) the development and current status of QM implementation in companies with different ownership types; 2) the organizational culture issues in companies with different ownership types; 3) the relationships between QM and culture; and 4) a dissemination and adoption framework for QM that contains nine observed dissemination and adoption factors, and is compatible with current theory relating to management fashions and also diffusion of innovations.

The research has made a contribution to knowledge in all these four areas, while extending general understanding of QM dissemination in the context of current theory. It has provided framework and a richer knowledge of dissemination, adoption and 'soft' aspects of QM in the Chinese context, and of relationships between QM and culture from organizational and national culture perspectives. The differences observed among enterprises with different ownership types are of particular note. The application of CVF to complement qualitative research is also considered a methodological advance.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Tannock, J.D.
Keywords: Industrial management, corporate culture, China, quality assurance
Subjects: H Social sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
Item ID: 14386
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2014 09:59
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2017 17:19

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