Title: Is quality still an important determinant of small suppliers' competitive strategy? An empirical cross-industry comparison

Authors: Corrado Lo Storto

Addresses: Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Naples Federico II, Piazzale V. Tecchio n. 80, 80125 Naples, Italy

Abstract: This paper presents the findings of a study aimed at investigating how managers in small supplying firms translate their vision of quality as a strategic tool into a set of principles, practices, and techniques that shape the firm quality-based strategy in the customer-supplier relationship. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from a sample of 139 small suppliers. Three groups of firms were uncovered, associated to three conceptualisations of quality denominated 'process-oriented', 'market-oriented', and 'product-oriented'. Results show that: 1) there is a positive association between industry type and the vision of quality as a strategic leverage; 2) there is a positive association between the managers quality vision and the commitment of supplier firms to pursue a quality-based strategy through the implementation of quality-related practices; 3) there is a positive association between the supplier managers quality vision and the customer-supplier relationship pattern. Finally, a comprehensive framework is proposed to define future streams of investigation.

Keywords: quality management; enterprise development; small firms; small suppliers; competitive strategy; quantitative analysis; qualitative analysis; manufacturing practices; cross-industry comparison; customer-supplier relationship; process-oriented; market-oriented; product-oriented; industry type; strategic leverage; quality vision; quality-based strategy.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMED.2015.073814

International Journal of Management and Enterprise Development, 2015 Vol.14 No.4, pp.345 - 384

Received: 10 Aug 2015
Accepted: 20 Sep 2015

Published online: 22 Dec 2015 *

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