Environmental Essay

5603 words - 22 pages

In a world of increased competitiveness and demanding customers who expect to have the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices, quality is widely recognized as a source of competitive advantage and is increasingly elevated to strategic importance as an essential determinant of success. Hence, the relationship between quality management and strategy is of great interest to researchers and practitioners alike. Work in this area is gaining momentum, and relationships are being investigated from different angles.Many studies have reported a high rate of quality implementation failures (Spector and Beer 1994; Eskildson 1994). Causes for these failures include cultural barriers and lack of top management commitment (Ngai and Cheng 1997). These barriers have been sufficiently addressed in the literature (Choi and Behling 1997; Ahire and O'Shaughnessy 1998; Puffer and McCarthy 1996; Zeitz, Johannasson, and Ritchell 1997; Jabnoun 2001). Reed, Lemak, and Montgomery (1996) attribute this failure rate to the fact that the match between environmental uncertainty, firm orientation, and total quality management (TQM) was not properly addressed. They generally focus on the content of TQM in relation to firm orientation (internal focus/customer focus) and performance in the context of environmental uncertainty. They relate uncertainty to firm orientation and propose that attention to customers is paramount when uncertainty is high, and a focus on operations is more beneficial when uncertainty is low. They consider that market-driven strategies and value engineering are consistent with customer orientation, while continuous improvement and enhancing product reliability are "operation" (internal) oriented. Finally, they conclude that a mismatch between environmental uncertainty and firm orientation reduces revenues and/or increases cost.Reed, Lemak, and Montgomery's (1996) study, however, did not look at different quality management approaches and how they relate to specific strategic orientations in the context of environmental uncertainty. Their approach instead looked into the content of TQM (but not other quality approaches) in relation to both internal and external orientations (but not specific strategies or strategic orientations) of the firm as well as its performance at different levels of environmental uncertainty.Moreno-Luzón and Peris (1998) developed an elaborate contingency model relating quality management approaches to three important organizational dimensions: contingency factors, the company's strategic management, and basic variables of organizational design. The basic organizational design variables of the contingency model are: level of decision-making centralization, level of formalization-standardization, and levels of shared values in the firm. Both internal and external contingency factors are incorporated in the model. These factors include: size, technical system, and dynamism and complexity of the environment. The...

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