Antecedents for Quality Management in Small and Medium Enterprises
Licentiate thesis, 2011

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are fundamental pillars of any national economy, often employing more people than large companies. Unlike larger companies, however, they often lack systematic ways to improve their operations. Quality Management (QM) has become recognised as a viable way to improve the quality of products and processes and large companies often use QM ideas as part of their operations. Historically, the main focus for QM research has been on larger organisations rather than SMEs. Since SMEs have their own set of strengths and weaknesses, such as their personalised management and lack of financial strength, respectively, it is not always possible to use traditional QM ideas in SMEs directly. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate antecedents for QM ideas and practices in SMEs, thereby contributing to the knowledge on how to adopt QM in SMEs. Three papers are presented in order to achieve this aim. The first paper uses a case study to show a successful example of QM in a large company, which serves as a baseline for how a successful QM initiative may look. The paper also discusses the need to contextualise any improvement initiative in any company. The second paper is a literature review on the adoption of QM in SMEs. It synthesises and groups recommendations, creating a collection of important issues for SMEs to consider when adopting QM. The paper highlights the importance of external support for these endeavours and reinforces the idea that contextualisation is always important. The third paper is based on a case study in a small company, which successfully made crucial changes. The paper investigates this case in the light of Paper I and Paper II. Paper III reveals that although methods for small companies do not need to be very different from large ones, there can be some obstacles in the adoption process itself.

process improvement


small and medium sized enterprises

Quality management

operations improvement

Vasa C, Vera Sandbergs Allé 8A, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
Opponent: Jonas Hansson, PhD, University West, Sweden


Marcus Assarlind

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Quality Sciences

Quality Management in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Irish Academy of Management 12th Annual Conference, Conference Proceedings,; (2009)

Paper in proceeding

Exploring Quality Management Implementation Factors: In-depth study at one smaller company

13th QMOD conference on Quality and Service Sciences ICQSS 2010, Proceedings,; (2010)

Paper in proceeding

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Other Mechanical Engineering

Areas of Advance


Driving Forces

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Licentiate thesis, report - Department of Technology of Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology: L2011:049

Vasa C, Vera Sandbergs Allé 8A, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden

Opponent: Jonas Hansson, PhD, University West, Sweden

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