Quality management, job-related contentment and performance. An empirical analysis of British workplaces

Date03 August 2015
Publication Date03 August 2015
AuthorLilian M. de Menezes,Stephen Wood
SubjectHR & organizational behaviour,Global HRM
Quality management, job-related
contentment and performance
An empirical analysis of British workplaces
Lilian M. de Menezes
Cass Business School, City University London, London, UK, and
Stephen Wood
School of Management, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether a quality management (QM) philosophy
underlies the joint use of operations and human resource management practices, and the relationships
with job-related contentment and performance.
Design/methodology/approach Data from an economy-wide survey are used to test hypotheses
via latent variable analyses (latent trait and latent class models) and structural equation models.
The sensitivity of each path is then assessed using regression models.
Findings Different elements rather than a unified philosophy are identified. A managerial approach
that integrates total QM and just-in-time procedures is rare, but is associated with the quality of the
product or service delivered. Labor productivity and quality are independent of the level of job-related
contentment in the workplace. Although the average workforce is content, high involvement
management and motivational support practices are associated with job anxiety. On the positive side,
job enrichment is linked to labor productivity, thus suggesting potential gains through job design.
Originality/value The study adds evidence from a national sample about a comprehensive range of
management practices, and suggests distinct outcomes from different elements of QM. Additionally, it
shows that performance expectations based on previous studies may not hold in large nationwide
heterogeneous samples.
Keywords Well-Being at Work, Work performance and productivity,
Human resource management (general)
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Quality management (QM) focusses on continuous improvement of all functions within
an organization and aims to meet or even exceed customer requirements (Dem ing,
2000; Juran, 1993; Martinez-Lorente et al., 1998; Molina-Azorin et al., 2009). Its
principles, which can be traced back to 1949 (Powell, 1995), have since spread beyond
manufacturing to services (Abernathy et al., 2000) and healthcare (Kollberg et al., 2007).
QM principles have also been translated into criteria for business excellence models. An
example is the Baldrige Award, whose focus changed from product quality to overall
organization competitiveness and sustainability, as highlighted in its criteria: leadership,
strategic planning, customer focus, measurement, analysis and knowledge management,
workforce management and process management.
QM is not only cross-functional but, most importantly, is an integrated approach for
organization-wide management (Sadikoglu and Zehir, 2010) that encompasses human
resource management (HRM) (Flynn et al., 1995). As Schroeder et al. (2005) argued, the
human issues in QM are of increasing interest, as highlighted in studies that show
employee performance to mediate the link between QM practices and firm performance
(Sadikoglu and Zehir, 2010), or empowerment and teamwork to be associated with
Evidence-based HRM: a Global
Forum for Empirical Scholarship
Vol. 3 No. 2, 2015
pp. 106-129
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/EBHRM-05-2014-0016
Received 7 May 2014
Revised 2 August 2014
Accepted 5 August 2014
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
productivity (Birdi et al., 2008). Nonetheless, such findings may not be universal, and
negative or insignificant correlations between QM and performance have also been
(e.g. Kannan and Tan, 2005; Prajogo and Sohal, 2004; Rahman and Bullock,
2005; Yang et al., 2009). Furthermore, the success of QM can be at the expense
of employees (Green, 2006), though empirical evidence on the effects of QM on
employees remains scarce (Sadikoglu and Zehir, 2010). All in all, there is need for
assessing the relationships between QM, performance and employee outcomes
within the wider economy.
This study investigates the associations between HRM and operation management
(OM) practices that have been linked to QM and the relationship with job-related
contentment, labor productivity and product/service quality. The Workplace Employment
Relations Survey of 2004 (WERS2004), an economy-wide sample of 2,295 British workplaces
that relies on responses from managers and employees, is used. A comprehensive set of
HRM practices are included, which are known to support process management
(Appelbaum et al., 2000; Wickens, 1987). These are aimed at: job enrichment by
providing employees discretion over how they perform their jobs (task variety, method
control, timing control); fostering direct participation by involving worker s (teamwork,
functional flexibility, quality circles, suggestion schemes, teambriefing, induction,
training in human relations skills, information disclosure, appraisal) and motivating
workers (survey feedback, priority given to internal recruitment, motivation
as a selection criterion, job security guarantees, single status, variable pay). Th e OM
practices in the data set are: training in quality, training in problem solving,
self-inspection of quality, keeping records of faults or complaints, keeping records on
quality customer surveying, quality targets, customer service targets, team briefings
that involve quality and just-in-time procedures ( JIT). Employee and workplace data
are matched so that the level of job-related contentment in each workplace is measured
through a well-tested psychological scale, anxiety-contentment,which was developed
by Warr (1990).
2. Background and hypotheses
2.1 An integrated QM
QM is a managerial philosophy that should be reflected in an organizations adoption of
integrated managerial systems that are aimed at higher quality, customer satisfaction
and performance (Bou and Beltran, 2005; Kaynak, 2003). Consequently, there ought to
be some positive association in the use of QM-related OM and HRM practices: all or at
least a core set should be used in association with each other (Shah and Ward , 2007),
and this association would reflect the underlying QM philosophy in the organization.
In statistical terms, this means that the correlation in practice use is explained by a
common factor (latent variable):
H1. There is correlation in the use of HRM and OM practices, and this correlation
stems from a common factor that underlies a QM philosophy.
Few authors have modeled the correlation in the adoption of different types of
management practices. Callen et al. (2003), in their study of the risk-profitability trade-
off of JIT manufacturing, used principal component analysis to develop their measure.
Fullerton et al. (2003) used factor analysis and found three QM factors underlying ten
practices. Similarly, de Menezes and Wood (2006) found that six TQM and nine
QM, job-related

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