This empirical study seeks to resolve the conflicting findings in the quality management (QM) literature about how different QM practices, specifically, infrastructure QM practices and core QM practices, affect quality performance.
Based on the Socio‐Technical Systems theory and research related to QM implementation and performance, the study proposes a research model of the relationship between infrastructure and core QM practices and their direct and indirect effects on quality performance. The empirical data were drawn from 226 manufacturing plants in the USA. The research model was tested using structural equation modeling (SEM) technique.
In the structural model, two integrated factors were used to represent the two types of QM practices: the infrastructure QM includes top management support, customer relationship, and supplier relationship, and workforce management; and the core QM consists of quality information, product/service design, and process management. The analysis of the structure model shows that the core QM directly leads to improved quality performance, and the infrastructure QM contributes to quality performance by supporting the core QM.
The study examines the roles of infrastructure QM practices and core QM practices in improving quality performance. It confirms that QM should be implemented as an integrated approach of different practices.
The major implication of the study is that both core and infrastructure QM practices are important in improving quality. It is important that companies allocate resources to establish both types of QM practices in order to achieve the effectiveness of the whole QM system.
The study utilized the SEM technique to empirically investigate the direct and indirect effects of infrastructure QM practices and core QM practices on quality performance. The SEM results help to clarify the mixed findings in the literature regarding the pattern of the QM practices‐performance relationships.