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Managing Quality in Cross-cultural Settings
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Logistics & Quality Management. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

As companies become multinational with subsidiaries in different countries and global customers, they face challenges in managing quality related to cultural diversity. During the past decades, cross-cultural quality management research has emerged, aiming to understand the link between culture and quality management, and to provide support for quality management in different cultural contexts. This research field becomes increasingly important considering global industries of today. Nevertheless, the first standpoint in identifying challenges in cross-cultural quality management in multinational companies remains to be an open question. This also leads to the need for developing an instrument to understand cultural diversity in quality management, from both an internal perspective related to employees and an external perspective related to customers.

This thesis aims to provide an insight into managing quality in cross-cultural settings, focusing on both multinational companies and companies having global customers. Three studies have been conducted combining qualitative and quantitative research methods. First, case studies were employed to explore the research field and identify challenges in managing quality related to national cultural diversity in multinational companies. The second study developed an instrument based on anchoring vignettes survey to understand cultural diversity in quality management and applied it in two settings. The third study combined an interview-based study with a case study using mixed methods to further investigate and consolidate the results gained from the first two studies, leading to the suggestion of possible strategies to manage quality in multinational companies.

The thesis findings identify three challenges in managing quality in multinational companies: 1) to translate and implement quality management approaches; 2) to motivate and engage employees in quality work; and 3) to establish shared perceptions of quality management values among employees. Further, an instrument based on anchoring vignettes is suggested to study quality management performance across subsidiaries and to measure customer satisfaction across borders. This instrument contributes to better understanding of cultural diversity and improves the comparability of survey results in quality management measurements. Regarding possible strategies, global integration is needed when a quality culture is weak. In the long-term, companies should promote technical aspects of quality management to form a ‘backbone’ of the quality management system and to set a basis for shared perceptions of quality management values and goals. Consequently, a strong quality culture can be established and companies can benefit from local adaptation of practices.

Abstract [sv]

När företag blir alltmer multinationella, med dotterbolag i olika länder och globala kunder, så möter de utmaningar i att bedriva kvalitetsutveckling som berör kulturell mångfald. Under de senaste decennierna har forskning på kvalitetsutveckling i mångkulturella sammanhang växt fram. Denna forskning syftar till att förstå sambandet mellan kultur och kvalitetsutveckling samt att stödja kvalitetsutveckling i olika kulturella kontexter. Detta forskningsfält ökar i betydelse i takt med den ökande globaliseringen. Trots det kvarstår behovet av att identifiera utmaningarna med kvalitetsutveckling i mångkulturella sammanhang. Detta leder även till behovet att utveckla ett instrument för att förstå kulturell mångfald i kvalitetsutveckling, både utifrån ett internt perspektiv, relaterat till de medarbetarna, men också utifrån ett externt perspektiv, relaterat till kunder.

Denna avhandling syftar till att ge insikter i hur kvalitetsutveckling bedrivs i mångkulturella sammanhang och fokuserar på både multinationella företag samt företag som har globala kunder. Tre studier har genomförts vilka har kombinerat både kvalitativa och kvantitativa metoder. I den första studien genomfördes en fallstudie för att utforska forskningsfältet och identifiera utmaningar i hur multinationella företag arbetar med kvalitetsutveckling relaterat till kulturell mångfald. I den andra studien utvecklades ett instrument baserat på en enkät som utifrån så kallade förankringsvinjetter sökte öka förståelsen för kulturell mångfald i kvalitetsutveckling. Detta instrument tillämpades sedan i två olika kontexter. I den tredje studien kombinerades en intervjubaserad studie med en fallstudie, där flera olika metoder användes, för att ytterligare undersöka och befästa resultaten från de två första studierna samt ge förslag på olika strategier för att bedriva kvalitetsutveckling i multinationella företag.

Avhandlingen identifierar tre huvudsakliga utmaningar i kvalitetsutveckling för multinationella företag: 1) att översätta och implementera ansatser för kvalitetsutveckling; 2) att motivera och involvera medarbetare i kvalitetsarbete; samt 3) att etablera gemensamma värderingar inom kvalitetsutveckling bland medarbetare. Vidare så föreslås ett instrument baserat på förankringsvinjetter för att kunna studera resultatet av kvalitetsutveckling mellan dotterbolag samt mäta kundtillfredsställelse över landsgränser. Detta instrument bidrar till att bättre förstå kulturell mångfald och ökar möjligheten att jämföra resultat från enkätundersökningar när effekterna av kvalitetsutveckling skall mätas. När det gäller möjliga strategier pekar resultaten på att det behövs global integrering när kvalitetskulturen är svag. På längre sikt bör företag främja de tekniska aspekterna av kvalitetsutveckling för att skapa en grund för kvalitetsledningssystem och en förståelse för gemensamma värderingar och mål. Därmed kan en stark kvalitetskultur etableras och företag kan gynnas genom lokala anpassningar av hur kvalitetsarbetet styrs i praktiken.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2020. , p. 81
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 2049
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-164230DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-164230ISBN: 9789179298968 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-164230DiVA, id: diva2:1413504
Public defence
2020-04-03, ACAS, A-Building, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-03-11 Created: 2020-03-10 Last updated: 2020-03-20Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Cultural Aspects when Implementing Lean Production and Lean Product Development: Experiences from a Swedish Perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cultural Aspects when Implementing Lean Production and Lean Product Development: Experiences from a Swedish Perspective
2014 (English)In: Quality Innovation Prosperity, ISSN 1335-1745, E-ISSN 1338-984X, Vol. 18, no 1, p. 125-140Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Lean principles and methods, originating in a Japanese cultural context, have spread to a large number of companies throughout the world. The aim of this case study research is to identify and compare national cultural aspects that influence Lean Production and Lean Product Development implementation in Swedish companies. Data were collected through questionnaires, interviews and an industrial workshop with Swedish Lean practitioners. The study shows that some sub-areas in Lean, such as value definition, control systems, leadership, team development, knowledge management, and strategies, are highly dependent on contextual factors related to human, cultural and organizational aspects. These are related to the national culture and should be considered to a higher extent for successful sustainable implementation of Lean in different cultural contexts. As for implementing Lean in Sweden, national cultural characteristics, such as individualism, autonomy and supportive management style fit well with Lean thinking.

Keywords
National cultural characteristics; organizational development; case study
National Category
Economics and Business Globalisation Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-122733 (URN)10.12776/qip.v18i1.321 (DOI)
Available from: 2015-11-18 Created: 2015-11-18 Last updated: 2020-03-10Bibliographically approved
2. Using anchoring vignettes to study quality management across cultures
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using anchoring vignettes to study quality management across cultures
2017 (English)In: International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, ISSN 1756-669X, E-ISSN 1756-6703, Vol. 9, no 3/4Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-162111 (URN)
Available from: 2019-11-19 Created: 2019-11-19 Last updated: 2020-03-10

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