There are several research studies that have been made with the purpose to examine the impact of quality management on business performance; e.g. Hendricks and Singhal (2001). There are also a number of research studies that aim at investigating the impact of quality management principles on business performance with a comparison between manufacturing and service organisations; e.g. Nilsson et al; (2001); Sun (2001); Solis et al (1998); Singh et al (2006) and Powell (1995). These studies are intended to aid managers to implement quality management more effectively by giving recommendations to which quality management principles to adopt depending on if the organisation produces products or services. Going through these studies a number of inconsistencies in the recommendations these studies make to managers are identified. To provide an example; Beaumont (1997) concludes that there are no relationship between quality management and business performance in either manufacturing or service organisations; while Lagrosen and Lagrosen (2003) conclude that quality management and business performance has a stronger relationship for manufacturing organisations in comparison to service organizations. In the study by Woon (2000) no significant difference between manufacturing and service organisations except for one principle which is in favour for manufacturing organisations can be found. To conclude; the studies mentioned above all study the same research issue but come to complete different results - how is that possible? Instead of living up to the intention of identifying systematic differences between manufacturing and service organizations concerning the relationship between quality management and business results; these studies have provided us with inconsistencies that have given managers a lot of frustration concerning what principles are most important in different organizational contexts.
Since there are inconsistencies in previous research; the aim of our paper is to perform a literature review and compare the results of 14 empirical studies published between 1988 and 2006 that focus on the differences related to quality management between manufacturing and service organisations. In particular we are interested in the relationship between individual quality management principles and business performance. Our results provide guidance to managers concerning what recommendations that are consistent across the studies and what the reasons may be for the identified inconsistencies in previous research.
Keywords: Quality Management; Principles; Business performance