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Title: Climbing the quality ladder: an empirical investigation of the applicability of the European quality award to the needs of small and medium-sized firms in Scotland.
Author(s): Abou El Magd, Hesham
Issue Date: 2004
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Quality has been recognised as a key competitive weapon in the global markets. Organisations world-wide are making considerable efforts to implement Total Quality Management (TQM) to gain global competitiveness and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are no less concerned with quality than larger organisations, but they are less comfortable with the formal approaches. However, little is known about the use of TQM models in SMEs and more specifically, into the applicability and relevance of the European Quality Award (EQA) model to the needs of SMEs. The EQA model was developed to accelerate the acceptance of quality as a strategy for global competitive advantage, to assess the development of quality improvement activities and to recognise companies, which excel in business excellence. The purpose of this study is to explore the applicability and relevance of the EQA model to the needs of SMEs in Scotland. The researcher intended to answer the research question by studying and evaluating the experience and perceptions of SMEs’ owner-managers in Scotland. To achieve the research objective, 300 questionnaires were distributed to Scottish SMEs and 180 returned questionnaires were considered usable. In addition, 15 interviews were conducted with SMEs’ owner-managers, to explore issues concerning the applicability of the model to the needs of SMEs in Scotland. The research instruments (postal questionnaires and interview questions) were developed based on the criteria underlying the EQA model. The reliability and validity of the research instruments were tested and validated. Various methods were employed for these tests and validation. It was concluded that the research instruments in this study were reliable and valid. Therefore, researchers will be able to use these research instruments for developing quality management theory. The EQA model found to be significantly correlated to organisational performance in Scottish SMEs. The model was found to be appropriate and applicable to the needs of SMEs in Scotland, which implied that they are willing to implement and practice the EQA model to achieve organisational success. Further, the study concluded that managers and owners of Scottish SMEs recommended other useful constructs, which can be incorporated into the EQA framework to make it more suitable and applicable to the needs of SMEs. Scottish SMEs were found to be willing to implement and practice the nine constructs underlying the EQA model, and more specifically, leadership was identified as playing an important role in stimulating quality consciousness. This is evident from the fact that Scottish managers and owners of SMEs had positive attitudes towards the nine constructs underlying the EQA model. Moreover, the EQA model was correlated significantly to performance in terms of customer satisfaction, quality, productivity and financial performance, which in turn can lead to enhancing the performance of Scottish SMEs. To confirm this further, the EQA constructs are regarded by the participants interviewed to be necessary for achieving success. Through the implementation of the EQA, organizations can achieve high quality products and services which are the essence of a company’s survival and competitiveness, while continual improvements in quality are critical for achieving and sustaining financial and operational performance. Therefore, it was clear that the EQA model seems to be an appropriate model to be used in Scottish SMEs for achieving organizational objectives and success. Additionally, the present study noted how SMEs in Scotland had recommended other constructs, which could be incorporated into the EQA framework to make it more applicable to their needs and help them to achieve the desired outcomes.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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