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Quality Management Competencies-in-use: exploring competence and practice perspectives on quality management work
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Logistics & Quality Management. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5702-4885
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Quality management is an established, widespread and well-researched management concept. Yet, surprisingly little research can be found on understanding the potential for action that is required in order to perform quality management work. The field of quality management has a strong emphasis not only on a customer and supplier focus (external), but also on a process focus (internal). This creates a constant challenge in the way in which quality management is conceived and realised. Another challenge is reflected in current research that describes the need for conceptual change in quality management due to extensive ongoing changes in society and the business environment. The nature and pace of technological development, coupled with changes in social behaviour, continuously bring out new customer needs and new ways for customers to interact with the producers of goods and services. This requires adaptive and innovative approaches for organisations, in order to stay competitive and relevant.

This thesis uses competence-based and practice-based perspectives to better understand the requirements placed on quality management in meeting these challenges. It investigates what quality management work is and what properties must exist, in terms of competence and practice, in order to make quality management work possible. The purpose of this thesis is, therefore, to explore how the theoretical perspectives of competence and practice can contribute to an increased understanding of what is required to perform quality management work. Three research questions are posed and answered. The first research question concerns the nature of quality management work and how its key factors may be characterised; the second research question deals with competencies of quality management and how these are interrelated with quality management work; the third research question concerns how the interplay between quality management competencies can be understood. The research questions are answered by interpreting the findings of five papers included in the thesis, using a conceptual framework.

The results of the thesis suggest two main directions of quality management work: expansive and adaptive quality management work. Expansive work is characterised by explorative practice, radical change to existing processes or the development of new processes, a logic of development, an orientation towards development and innovation, a striving to increase external efficiency and a striving to increase process variation. Adaptive work is characterised by exploitative practice, incremental change to existing processes, a logic of performance, an orientation towards goals and productivity, a striving towards internal efficiency and a striving to decrease process variation. Quality management competencies relate to quality management work in combining role dependency and discretion. Role dependency signifies the potential and capability to assume multiple role-responsibilities. Discretion is the ‘freedom of movement’ for quality practitioners to engage in practices and choose quality management work directions according to task and situation. The interplay between quality management competencies is understood as the combined effects of two competence antecedents: individual and/or collective dispositions to change and learning. This thesis extends research on quality management by increasing our knowledge and understanding of the requirements needed, not only to select and perform existing quality management practices, but also to adopt and engage in practices where emergence is accommodated by ambidexterity.

Abstract [sv]

Kvalitetsutveckling är ett etablerat, utbrett och välbeforskat managementkoncept. Trots detta går det att hitta förvånansvärt lite forskning vilken fokuserar på en ökad förståelse för de handlingsförmågor som faktiskt krävs för att utföra kvalitetsutveckling. Som koncept särskiljer sig kvalitetsutveckling i sitt dubbla fokus på både ett internt, processrelaterat innehåll och ett externt, kundfokuserat innehåll. Detta skapar en konstant utmaning för hur kvalitetsutveckling kan förstås och omsättas i praktiker. En annan utmaning som beskrivs i forskningen är behovet av konceptuell förändring som krävs i kvalitetsutveckling för att möta kunna samhälleliga och marknadsmässiga förändringar. Hastigheten och innehållet i den tekniska utvecklingen samt förändringar i sociala beteenden utvecklar hela tiden nya kundbehov och nya sätt att interagera med leverantörer av varor och tjänster. Detta kräver anpassningsinriktade och innovativa förhållningssätt för organisationer att vara relevanta samt att kunna bibehålla och öka konkurrenskraften.

Kompetensteoretiska och praktikteoretiska perspektiv används i avhandlingen för att bättre förstå de krav som kan ställas på modern kvalitetsutveckling i att möta dessa utmaningar. Avhandlingen undersöker vad modern kvalitetsutveckling är och vilka egenskaper som måste finnas, i termer av kompetens och praktik, för att möjliggöra att modern kvalitetsutveckling utförs. Syftet med denna avhandling är således att utforska hur kompetensteoretiska och praktikteoretiska perspektiv kan bidra till en ökad förståelse för vad som krävs för att utföra kvalitetsutvecklingsarbete. Tre olika forskningsfrågor behandlas. Den första forskningsfrågan handlar om vad kvalitetsutvecklingsarbete är och hur det kan karaktäriseras i termer av nyckelfaktorer. Den andra forskningsfrågan berör kompetenser för kvalitetsutveckling och hur dessa kan kopplas till arbete med kvalitetsutveckling. Den tredje forskningsfrågan handlar om hur samspelet mellan kompetenser för kvalitetsutvecklingsarbete kan förstås. Forskningsfrågorna besvaras genom att tolka de empiriska resultaten i fem bilagda artiklar utifrån ett konceptuellt ramverk.

Avhandlingens resultat visar på två huvudsakliga inriktningar på innehållet i kvalitetsutvecklingsarbete: expansivt och adaptivt kvalitetsutvecklingsarbete. Nyckelfaktorer i expansivt arbete är “explorative” praktik, radikal förändring av existerande processer eller utveckling av nya processer, utvecklingslogik, utvecklings- och innovationsorientering, extern effektivitet samt ökning av processvariation. Nyckelfaktorer i adaptivt arbete är “exploitative” praktik, inkrementell förändring i existerande processer, prestationslogik, mål och produktivitets-orientering, intern effektivitet samt att minska och styra processvariation. Kopplingen mellan kompetenser för och arbetet med praktiker i kvalitetsutveckling utgörs av en potential för rollberoende och handlingsfrihet. Rollberoende beskriver en individuell och/eller kollektiv kapacitet att kunna tillägna sig samt byta mellan olika definierade rollansvar. Handlingsfrihet beskriver kapaciteten att kunna välja inriktning på innehållet i arbetet beroende på uppgift och situation. Samspelet mellan kompetenser för kvalitetsutvecklingsarbete kan beskrivas som den samlade effekten av två förutsättningar (eng. antecedent) för kompetens: individuell och/eller kollektiv benägenhet för förändring och lärande. Avhandlingens resultat bidrar till forskningen om kvalitetsutveckling på två huvudsakliga sätt. Dels genom att öka kunskap och förståelse för de krav som ställs på att välja och prestera existerande kvalitetsutvecklingspraktiker. Dels genom att öka förståelsen om hur anpassning och utövande av dessa praktiker går till där framväxandet av praktiker stimuleras genom att möjliggöra organisatorisk ambidextri.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2019. , p. 79
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 2020
Keywords [en]
Quality management, competence, practice, work, organisation, individual, structure
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-161079DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-161079ISBN: 9789179299873 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-161079DiVA, id: diva2:1362777
Public defence
2019-11-12, ACAS, Hus A, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-10-21 Created: 2019-10-21 Last updated: 2019-10-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Four facets of learning in performance measurement
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Four facets of learning in performance measurement
2018 (English)In: International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, ISSN 1741-0401, E-ISSN 1758-6658, Vol. 67, no 9, p. 1608-1624Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this study is to contribute to a better understanding of the role of learning in performance measurement. Design/methodology/approach – We develop a theoretical framework combining workplace learning theory with purposes of performance measurement. We elaborate this framework empirically by identifying critical incidents from a case set within a context containing a broad range of different performance measurement activities. Finally, we discuss the results and the possible implications for using our theoretical framework in order to better understand facets of learning regarding the design of performance measurement. Findings – Workplace learning theory provides a deeper understanding of how the mechanisms of performance measurements support control or improvement purposes. We propose a tentative framework for learning as a driver for performance measurement and four facets of learning are identified: reproductive, rule-oriented, goal-oriented and creative learning. Research limitations/implications – The empirical material is limited to the healthcare context and further studies are needed in order to validate the findings in other settings. Practical implications – We argue that all managers must consider what kind of learning environment and what kind of learning outcomes best serve the interests of their organisation. Purposeful and carefully designed organisational arrangements and learning environments are more likely to induce intended learning outcomes. Originality/value –Previous connections between the fields of ‘performance measurement’ and ‘workplace learning’ often lack any deeper conceptualisations or problematisations of the concept of learning. In this paper, we provide a more nuanced discussion about the process of learning in performance measurement, which may provide a basis for further research and scholarly attention.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2018
Keywords
Performance measurement, workplace learning, control, improvement, adaptive learning, developmental learning.
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-152037 (URN)10.1108/IJPPM-11-2017-0320 (DOI)
Available from: 2018-10-17 Created: 2018-10-17 Last updated: 2019-10-21Bibliographically approved
2. Fit for purpose?: Exploring competence in quality management
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fit for purpose?: Exploring competence in quality management
2019 (English)In: International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, ISSN 1756-669X, E-ISSN 1756-6703, Vol. 11, no 3, p. 317-333Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this study is to use competence theory to explore the fit between actual competencies of quality management practitioners and the perception of quality management competence needs in organisations. 

Design/methodology/approach –This paper is based on a cross-case quantitative study design featuring a survey of quality management practitioners (n= 249) within eight large Swedish organisations. The research instrument was a questionnaire covering seven themes within quality management. The analysis is based on descriptive statistics.

Findings –The results show that while the perception of formal quality management competence may seem sufficient, the evolving nature of quality management requires knowledge, skills and attitudes that are also apt for more external and explorative perspectives. There is a bias towards competence for exploitative quality management rather than explorative quality management.  Organisational logics preserving and possibly reinforcing a perceived “competence lag” in organisations are identified and described.

Originality/value – Few empirical studies within quality management explore the competencies required for quality management practices. This paper contributes to quality management research in providing arguments for adopting competence theory as a foundation for organising current and future quality management work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2019
Keywords
quality management, practitioner, competence, task, professional
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-160707 (URN)10.1108/IJQSS-06-2018-0054 (DOI)000486488600001 ()
Available from: 2019-10-03 Created: 2019-10-03 Last updated: 2019-10-21Bibliographically approved
3. Towards a quality management competence framework: exploring needed competencies in quality management
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards a quality management competence framework: exploring needed competencies in quality management
2019 (English)In: Total Quality Management and Business Excellence, ISSN 1478-3363, E-ISSN 1478-3371Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Background and purpose Few empirical studies have focused on what quality management practitioners actually do, with even fewer studies focusing on what it actually takes to do quality management work, i.e. the competencies of quality management. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a competence-based terminology for describing general competencies of quality management work in organisations and to create a competence framework in order to understand what is needed to be a quality management practitioner.

Design/methodology/approach This paper is based on an embedded, qualitative multiple-case study design incorporating four Swedish large size organisations where designated quality management practitioners (n= 33) were selected and interviewed.

Findings A quality management competence framework incorporating four main quality management competence dimensions is presented: the human, the methods & process, the conceptual and the contextual competence dimensions. Four generic quality management role responsibilities are also posited: centralised & strategic, centralised & operational, local & strategic and local & operational role responsibilities. The competencies and role responsibilities are discussed in relation to the notion of emergent quality management and the emerging need of more integrative and business excellence-oriented quality management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2019
Keywords
quality management, practitioner, competencies, responsibility, professional
National Category
Work Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-154423 (URN)10.1080/14783363.2019.1576516 (DOI)2-s2.0-85061326972 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2019-02-11 Created: 2019-02-11 Last updated: 2019-10-21Bibliographically approved
4. The roles of quality departments and their influence on business results
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The roles of quality departments and their influence on business results
Show others...
2019 (English)In: Total quality management and business excellence (Online), ISSN 1478-3363, E-ISSN 1478-3371Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This study explores the various roles of quality departments and investigates whether their roles have different effects on business results. Based on a survey of quality managers in 211 Swedish organisations, the analysis identifies four roles of quality departments: firefighters, auditors, process improvers, and orchestrators. The roles vary in their predominant adoption of Quality Management practices ranging from a narrow scope focusing on quality management systems to a broader scope based on multiple practices. An analysis was performed to identify how each of the identified roles influences business results. The results show that quality departments with a broad focus that combines both explorative and exploitative quality practices contribute the most to business results.

Keywords
quality management, quality department, quality practices, roles, business results
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-159880 (URN)10.1080/14783363.2019.1643713 (DOI)000479397100001 ()2-s2.0-85070271441 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2019-08-27 Created: 2019-08-27 Last updated: 2019-10-21

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