Customizing quality management practices: A conceptual and measurement framework

Dongli Zhang, Kevin Linderman, Roger G. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Quality management (QM) has often been promoted as a universal remedy, where organizations adopt these practices to enhance performance. However, implementation of QM has led to mixed results with some high-profile failures. Some suggest that customizing QM practices to fit the organization's situational context can help avoid implementation failure and improve performance. However, research has not fully investigated how organizations should go about customizing quality practices. This article addresses this question by conceptualizing two fundamental yet different aspects of QM practices that have different learning objectives: quality exploitation (QEI) and quality exploration (QER). Drawing on experts and empirical data, we develop a reliable and valid set of measures for QEI and QER. Furthermore, the analysis shows the performance differences in the two sets of QM practices across different contextual settings. Specifically, the empirical results show that the benefits of different QM orientations depend on the level of competition and rate of product change. This research challenges prior conceptualizations of QM, and suggests a practical framework to guide decision makers in customizing QM practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-114
Number of pages34
JournalDecision Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Exploitation
  • Exploration
  • Organizational Learning
  • Quality Management


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