Purpose – This paper aims to present and discuss the current state of quality-improvement activities in Swedish companies. The paper focuses on the drivers for quality improvement; types of approaches, tools and techniques, and organizational aspects influenced by quality improvement; and potential areas for improvement.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper presents results from a survey on quality improvement work in Swedish industry. Data for this paper were collected using a web-based questionnaire that was distributed to 800 production managers working in Swedish service and manufacturing organizations. Of the 800 questionnaires sent, a total of 118 questionnaires were filled out, which resulted in a response rate of 16 percent.
Findings – The result shows that the major drivers for quality improvement work in Swedish industry are economical aspects as the need for cost reduction, the need to become more competitive and the wish to increase market share. Drivers such as pressure from shareholders and trends in management have a minor role. The underlying approaches for quality improvement work are standards such as ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. A total of 72 percent of respondents stated that they work with quality management systems; 59 percent, with environmental management systems. The aspects that were most positively influenced by the improvement work were employee motivation, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, product/service quality, and flow in internal processes.
Research limitations/implications – Empirical results obtained in Sweden may differ to some extent in other countries.
Practical implications – This paper is intended as a source of inspiration for researchers, consultants, and managers who are interested in the current trends and future developments in the quality field.
Originality/value – The paper provides valuable insights into the current state of quality improvement activities in Swedish industry, as seen from the perspective of the production manager.
Emerald , 2010. Vol. 2, no 2, 206-216 p.