Diffusion of Quality Management: An empirical test of an analytical framework
Paper in proceeding, 2007
Alänge et al. (1998) presented a tentative analytical framework for studying the diffusion of organizational innovations. Recent literature on technical innovation and their diffusion was used as a basis for the development of this framework
The aim of this paper is to examine the usefulness and validity of the tentative analytical framework presented in Alänge et al. (1998) in studying the diffusion of organizational innovations. For this purpose, two exploratory case studies were carried out on the diffusion of the organizational innovation Total Quality Management (TQM) both to and within one manufacturing company in the private sector and one hospital in the public sector. Learnings from a comparative analysis of the two cases were then used to improve the framework
It was found that the tentative analytical framework was applicable and useful for analysing the diffusion process of organisational innovations, although some areas for improvement were identified, primarily concerning the intra-organizational diffusion and implementation process. Organizational change can be seen as a gradual and cumulative learning process. User competence, both the abilities to search for innovations and to manage change, is critical for the diffusion process. An organization’s earlier experience/knowledge affect search processes, and organizational change can, therefore, be seen as path-dependent. In the tentative framework it was assumed that there would be a problem of observability and triability but both organisations studied solved this problem by introducing quality methods and tools through pilot projects.
The two cases showed that consultancy firms, training institutions and national, regional or industry networks were important as they provided information and advice. They also provided meeting places for experience sharing and contributed by standardizing the content and methods of diffusion of the organizational innovation
External and internal pressures influence change, especially if they can be seen as crises. Change competence does, however, also include management’s ability to make the organizational members perceive a crisis. The ability to change is also affected by the interdependency effects from other organizational innovations. In addition, political power may be a major inhibiting factor.
diffusion of innovation