QUALITY: DOES SIZE MATTER?
Quality has been the catchcry for business in the nineties, with much of this focussed on the ISO 9000 family of
standards. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have usually borne the brunt of this as larger customers drive
them. Broader notions of quality such as TQM and using the quality award models have also been promoted
heavily in the business world. Most of these formal concepts of quality often overlook the fact that SMEs lack the
resources required to adopt these. This paper investigates the notion that SMEs may tend to adopt less formal
methods of promoting quality yet pursue it with a high degree of rigour.
Drawing on case study material from small enterprise quality initiatives, this paper looks at how the principles of
quality management are applied in smaller enterprises and compares this with larger organisations. Findings
suggest that the smaller enterprises enjoy some advantages over their larger counterparts when it comes to quality
and in many respects, do adopt informal means of driving it. Of critical importance are the owner/managers
involvement and training and development of employees.
Whilst quality management in its various guises has been actively promoted for a number of years with a great deal
having been published over the past two decades, there is still relatively little known about quality practices in
smaller enterprises. This paper aims to provide some insight into this by focusing on how small organisations apply
Whilst there can be debates about what constitutes a small enterprise, most definitions are based on number of
employees with the Australian definition of small being less than 20 employees in the service industry and less than
100 in manufacturing. Other criteria to consider in defining small are ownership and sales turnover. Micro
businesses (those with less than 5 employees) constitute a considerable proportion of...