Taking the Strategic Approach Toward Quality: An Exploratory Field Study of the Textile Industry

Article

Kassaee, Massoud   (1990, ASQC)   University of North Texas, Denton, TX

Annual Quality Congress, San Francisco, CA    Vol. 44    No. 0
QICID: 9438    May 1990    pp. 121-127
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Article Abstract

Quality has gone through several significant changes in recent years. Today, quality is viewed from a new perspective. CEOs are expressing greater interest in quality. Some textile industry executives have gone as far as defining quality from customers point of view, and including quality within the strategic planning process.

Despite these observations, few companies have really learned how to compete on quality. The U.S. textile industry faced with numerous problems, has shut down more than 1000 plants since 1980, resulting in the loss of 300,000 manufacturing jobs. Much of the problems faced by this industry are quality related. Quality is still defined as "defect elimination". To remain globally competitive, the U.S. textile industry has to take the strategic approach towards quality. Quality has to be regarded as a a competitive weapon which can determine the fate of an industry'in the global markets.

Specifically, top management is concerned about exporters such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea, who are taking over some major portions of the U.S. textile market by delivering superior quality products at competitive prices. As a result, CEOs have no choice but to become fully involved in quality matters. The new approach to quality is being strongly shaped by top management's concern.

Traditionally, quality has been treated as a "secondary" issue with little or no top management support. However, such a treatment will have severe side effects for the firm. To remain competitive, firms have to treat quality as a strategic issue. Such a move would require top management to become familiar with a wider range of concepts and situations than what they have commonly been performing. Some firms may need to go as far as creating an executive position for the person in charge of quality.

This paper provides background information on the development of strategic quality management. Elements of strategic quality management as well as reasons for treating quality as a strategic issue are also discussed. Quality managers for two textile plants were interviewed regarding their quality programs. A subjective comparison is also made between the programs discussed in the literature survey and the ones observed in the exploratory field study.

Although the results of the survey indicate some differences between literature and field studies, however, the two textile plants have realized some significant improvements by treating quality as a strategic issue.

Keywords

Textile and needle trades


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