The Many Meanings of Quality: Towards a Definition in Support of Sustainable Operations
Journal article, 2020
The concept of quality accommodates a range of perspectives. Over the years, various conceptual definitions of quality have reflected the evolution and trends marking the history and development of quality management. The current and widely accepted understanding of the concept of quality focuses on customer-centric notions, where meeting or preferably exceeding customer needs and expectations defines quality. However, societal drivers such as sustainability and digitalisation require a perspective on quality that is inclusive of a broader range of stakeholders to serve current and future societal needs. The purpose of this paper is to elaborate on the concept of quality as practiced and extend this understanding in a framework designed to include objective and subjective aspects from a broad range of stakeholders. An integrated conceptual framework offering expanded views on the foundations for defining the meaning of quality is suggested. This framework is centred around the notion of quality-in-use, which offers a way to guide and enhance the actual practices of Quality Management. It incorporates two dimensions for understanding quality; form, which covers the constructive or predefined dimension and scope, which covers the single actor or multi-interested parties dimension. Four major perspectives on quality-in-use are presented: Quality-as-customer-value, Quality-as-agreed-delivery, Quality-as-ecosystems-integration, and Quality-as-society-values.