Quality Management, Job-related Contentment and Performance: an empirical analysis of British workplaces

The principles of Quality management can be traced back to the mid 20th century. Its aims for continuous improvement of every facet of an organisation, with meeting or exceeding customer requirements the goal, now inhabit the manufacturing, services and healthcare sectors.

Quality management (QM) is an integrated approach for firm-wide management that encompasses human resource management. Previous research has shown that employee performance mediates the link between QM practices and firm performance. However other studies have reported insignficant or even negative correlations between QM and performance. Therefore the relationships between QM, firm performance and the effects on employees require further assessment.

Accordingly this research investigates the associations between human resource and operation management practices that have been linked to QM, and the relationship with job contentment, productivity and service quality. The Workplace Employment Relations Survey of 2004, an economy-wide sample of 2295 British workplaces, was used.

It investigated the human aspects of quality management through a wide range of HRM practices as well as employee-level data on job-related contentment. There was no evidence of an integrated quality management. The average workforce was content with their jobs, but happy workplaces were not associated with high performance, and high involvement management was linked to job anxiety.

Yet job enrichment, which was rare in the average workplace, appeared to be crucial to labour productivity. Good job design it seems is a source of competitive advantage, something which managers should bear in mind.

This study adds economy-wide evidence to an ongoing debate about the relationship between operations and human resource management practices that underlie quality management and performance.

The full draft research paper can be downloaded at the link below.

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