Volume 9 • Number 3
Quality in U. S. Manufacturing Industries: An Empirical
by Christopher Roethlein, Bryant College, Paul Mangiameli,
University of Rhode Island, and Maling Ebrahimpour, University
of Rhode Island
Quality management practices were determined in this
research study from previous research, in-depth interviews,
multiple case-study analysis, and an empirically based survey.
Twelve categories consisting of 89 quality management practices
were determined. The categories are: top management support,
customer relates with responding entity, responding entity
relates with customer, statistical control/feedback, rewards
to employees for quality improvement, impact of increased
quality, work attitudes, product design process, process
flow management, supplier relates with responding entity,
responding entity relates with supplier, and information
technology. A national survey was sent to 3375 managers
representing 3285 different manufacturing companies. Six
hundred thirty-four of the surveys were returned. The responses
were examined with respect to each organizations self-reported
level in a five-level manufacturing supply chain (base-level
supplier to end-product producer). The rank order of the
most applicable and least applicable quality management
practices was consistent across all five levels of the supply
chain. The authors results indicate that level of
supply chain does not influence how quality is managed.
A successful manufacturing company is usually indicative
of a successful manufacturing supply chain. By identifying
the quality management practices that are considered important
to each level in a supply chain, one level of a supply chain
can better communicate and understand another level. Better
communication creates a competitive advantage for individual
entities and their connected supply chain.
Key words: manufacturing, quality management practices,
supply chain, survey
Quality management practices that contribute to higher levels
of quality are important for consumers and for business performance.
Members of both academic and industrial communities have struggled
to determine quality management practices that contribute
to a higher level of quality and, henceforth, a higher level
of productivity and profit. Making matters more difficult
is that quality management practices of today must involve
more than the manufacturing entity; they must involve the
suppliers, subsuppliers, and end-product producers. These
combined entities create a manufacturing supply chain, and
the ability to understand how each level interacts with the
other is the key to improved quality, performance, and productivity.
This study determines if quality management practices change
with respect to level in a manufacturing supply chain. In
other words, do people manage quality differently depending
on where their company is located in their supply chain? Specifically,
the authors answer the following questions:
- What are the current quality management practices of U.
S. manufacturing companies?
- What are the most and least applicable categories of quality
management in U. S. manufacturing companies?
- Do categories of quality management vary with respect
to a firms level in the supply chain?
This study builds on past research to provide a comprehensive
analysis that culminates in a survey that far exceeds (in
mailing size) previous surveys on quality management practices.
In addition, the authors study differs from previous
studies of quality management practices because they relate
quality management practices to the respondents level
in their supply chain. Assessing the whole supply chain, and
individual levels, on the status of quality management practices
will better direct decision-makers in quality, and hence,
performance areas. Knowing the relationships between categories
of quality management and level in a supply chain will better
arm decision-makers to direct quality management within their
Before quality management practices within the different
levels of a manufacturing supply chain can be understood,
definitions must be established along with an acknowledgment
of previous research efforts.
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