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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Operations Management, Volume 22, Issue 6, December 2004, Pages 589–607
Several quality thought leaders have considered the role of knowledge in quality management practices. For example, Deming proposed The Deming System of Profound Knowledge™ that dealt explicitly with knowledge. However, various authors in the quality field diverge considerably when contemplating knowledge. We propose an integrated view of quality and knowledge using Nonaka's theory of knowledge creation. This integrated view helps illuminate how quality practices can lead to knowledge creation and retention. The knowledge perspective also provides insight into what it means to effectively deploy quality management practices. Previous empirical research noted the importance of effective deployment, but provided little insight into what effective deployment means. This research argues that quality management practices create knowledge, which leads to organizational performance. Taking a knowledge-based view (KBV) of the firm provides a deeper understanding of why some organizations are more successful at deploying quality management practices than others.
The Quality Management field increasingly searches for new ways to improve organizational performance. Taylor (1911) suggested improvement occurred by standardizing workers’ tasks and providing incentives. Shewhart (1939) advanced the importance of understanding variation and the scientific method in performance improvement. Taguchi (1986) advocated the importance of product and process design in managing variation. Ishikawa (1985) promoted the use of teams or quality circles and the seven original tools of quality in performance improvement. Still others have emphasized a comprehensive systems view to improve organizational performance (Deming, 1986, Feigenbaum, 1991 and Juran and Godfrey, 1999). These and other quality management practitioners seek to create change and improve organizational performance. After decades of various performance improvement initiatives, the question becomes what are the underlying processes that govern performance improvement? We propose that integrating quality management practices with organizational knowledge concepts can provide insights into how quality management lead to improved performance. Most quality improvement activities require the creation of new knowledge for the organization. In fact, Deming (1994, p. 1) said that “best efforts and hard work, not guided by new knowledge, only dig deeper the pit we are already in”. This suggests that the understanding of knowledge should play a central role in understanding organizational improvement activities. The early founders of quality management were influenced by the role of knowledge in improvement activities. Both Shewhart (1939) and Deming (1994) made references to C.I. Lewis, an American philosopher of epistemology. Lewis (1929) developed a theory of knowledge in probabilistic terms. At about the same time, academics were beginning to develop theories that challenged the traditional static views of truth. Heisenburg introduced the uncertainty principle, Einstein conceived the theory of relativity, and quantum mechanics was beginning to develop—all these theories suggested a probabilistic view of truth was required. Lewis developed philosophical justification for a probabilistic notion of truth. Shewhart and Deming were probably deeply moved by these theories since they received their Ph.D. in physics about this time. Deming, a protégé of Shewhart, was later credited with conveying Lewis's views in more concrete terms that could be understood by practitioners (Cunningham, 1994). This historic perspective suggests that knowledge played a critical role in the early development of quality management. Yet the link between quality management and knowledge has not been fully developed in concrete terms. There has been little academic research connecting organizational knowledge and quality management. For example, Ahire et al. (1995) and Sousa and Voss (2002) provide comprehensive literature reviews of the quality management literature, but did not identify any papers that relate quality management to knowledge. This paper provides a basis for understanding the connection between quality and knowledge, and from a knowledge perspective develops insights into how effective deployment of quality management practices lead to improved performance. The next section reviews knowledge and quality from the viewpoint of various academics and quality thought leaders, and discusses prior research in relating quality to firm performance. We then develop an integrated perspective of quality management practices and Nonaka's theory of organizational knowledge creation. Based on the proposed integrative theory we then discuss propositions for future testing and implications for practitioners. Finally, we draw conclusions and discuss the importance of considering both quality management and knowledge when improving organizational performance.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The fundamental objectives of knowledge management and quality management are the same—create more organizational knowledge so that improvement can occur. Several quality leaders have considered knowledge, but they have diverse and often an incomplete understanding of what knowledge means. We view quality management from Nonaka's foundational work on knowledge creation. Nonaka provides a useful theoretical lens since it considers not only individual and organizational knowledge, but also tacit and explicit knowledge. As Dooley (2000) suggested, the future of the quality management discipline will require a greater understanding of the role of tacit knowledge. This re-enforces the importance of using knowledge management frameworks that consider tacit knowledge when understanding quality management practices. Several references have been made in the quality literature, but none of them explicitly consider both tacit and explicit knowledge and the interrelationships between these epistemological domains. Since quality management is an organizational wide approach to improvement (NIST, 2000), it is imperative to consider comprehensive theories of knowledge in understanding quality. Prior studies have only considered incomplete views of knowledge, often focusing on only tacit or explicit knowledge and rarely considered the knowledge creation process. The proposed theory for integrating quality and knowledge considers both the epistemological and ontological dimensions of knowledge, and the knowledge creation processes. This provides insights into what it means to effectively deploy quality management practices. Organizations maintaining a set of quality management practices that support the knowledge creation processes should be more effective at deploying quality management. This helps illuminate what effective deployment of quality management means. This research indicates that quality management practices should be bundled around knowledge creation processes. Previous empirical research has established the importance of effective deployment of quality management, but has not developed a complete understanding of what effective deployment means. Quality frameworks like the Baldrige Award increasingly recognize the importance of knowledge (e.g. the MBNQA category “Information and Analysis” was recently changed to “Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management”), but do not incorporated knowledge into the logic of deploying quality management practices. This knowledge perspective presents an opportunity for future refinements of the MBNQA. In addition, deploying quality from a knowledge-based view seems more consistent with the underlying philosophy of quality thought leaders such as Deming (1994) and Juran (1995). A comprehensive knowledge perspective of quality helps enlighten what effective organizational-wide deployment of quality management means. The knowledge-based view of the firm also helps understand how quality management practices lead to firm performance. The theoretical link between quality management practices and firm performance has not been clearly understood. Knowledge-based view of a firm provides an appropriate theoretical lens to establish this link since there is a strong connection between improvement and knowledge creation. However, other theoretical perspectives could also explain the relationship between quality management and performance. For example, Choi and Eboch (1998) suggest institutional theory can be a useful theory to explain the link between quality management and performance. They find a strong direct link between quality management practices and customer satisfaction, but a weak link when operational performance mediates quality management practices and customer satisfaction. This paper also contributes to the knowledge management literature. Quality management provides a context for studying knowledge management and illustrates specific practices that can be used to create knowledge. This helps us understand not only what organizational knowledge is, but also how it can actually be created through specific management practices. Future research should focus on testing and refining the proposed theory. Recently Sabherwal and Becerra-Fernandez (2003) employed Nonaka's theory to test propositions about effectiveness of knowledge management in various organizational settings. They developed scales of socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization and tested their model using the structural modeling technique. Their research could serve as a departure point for testing our theory. Other relevant works include King and Zeithaml (2003) where they deal with the challenge of measuring organizational knowledge. Future research will require operationalizing the constructs proposed in this paper and subsequent testing of the propositions. In addition, as one reviewer noted, possibly all four knowledge creation process may not be equally important. Future research could investigate the relative importance of different knowledge creation processes in different environmental settings. The proposed theory has provided a theoretical basis for linking quality management and knowledge. It will hopefully set the stage for future theory development and empirical research.