A model for adoption of quality management in SMEs
Paper i proceeding, 2014

Since its dawn several decades ago, quality management (QM) has become established as a concept for improving organisations. It is often manifested in companies today in various initiatives, such as “lean”, “Six Sigma” or “the Company Production System”. However, adoptions of QM are scarce in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Historically, some research has considered QM as universally applicable. However, it is seen that characteristics of individual organisations, and different parts of QM adoption processes, influence what practices that are favourably applicable in SMEs. The purpose of this paper is to investigate what processes of QM adoption in the SME context can look like. This will consequently aid practitioners and researchers in better understanding QM adoption processes, in particular in the SME context. The results of this paper are based two case studies of a small and medium sized company, respectively, and two case studies of improvement programmes for SMEs. These studies have helped identify a number of important stages of the QM adoption process: awareness and need, competence, adaptation, implementation, study, and action. Importantly, adoption processes should be viewed as complex and iterative in nature. In order to understand adoption processes, it is critical to recognise them as non-linear, and that they are not exclusively progressing but may also regress. These findings are further synthesised into a model that may provide practical guidance and inspiration for planning an adoption, as well as structure for analysing adoption processes.

adoption process

small and medium-sized enterprises

lean production

six sigma

Quality management

continuous improvement


Marcus Assarlind

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Industriell kvalitetsutveckling

58th EOQ conference, 11-12 June, Gothenburg


Produktionsteknik, arbetsvetenskap och ergonomi

Annan maskinteknik


Hållbar utveckling

Innovation och entreprenörskap



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