Academic journal article Multinational Business Review

Benchmarking Quality Management Practices: U.S. versus Costa Rica

Academic journal article Multinational Business Review

Benchmarking Quality Management Practices: U.S. versus Costa Rica

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

To survive in today's competitive marketplace, companies are adopting quality management programs. Although a number of researchers have examined quality management in industrialized countries, few have compared the quality practices of industrialized and developing countries. We fill this gap in the literature by examining the current status of TQM programs in Costa Rica, and benchmarking them relative to those in the U.S. The results indicate that Costa Rican companies are still lagging behind U.S. operations in terms of human resource development and customer focus and satisfaction.

ABSTRACT

IMF stabilization policy has forced Korea to implement significant reforms. Arguing the changes necessary to catalyze a revitalization of the Korean economy, this paper contends that Korea is going to emerge from the crisis more competitive, having better allocated its resources along with facilitating technology-based industrial alliance with global companies. Korea is at a crossroads, and its present crisis signifies a challenge which the success of developmental efforts brings with it. Since Korea can no longer rely on technology and R&D imports, it has to reformulate its technology policy, creating a climate for catching up high technology. Korea must muster the human capital, as well as financial and other resources to generate an industrial growth path, complemented by industrial alliance.

INTRODUCTION

In the past twenty-five years, global competition has been on the rise. Companies located in the industrialized world are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with units operating in regions with relatively low wages. Added to the problem is the growing volatility of the business environment owing to the presence of numerous multinational players, rapid changes in technology, and shorter product life-cycles.

To survive in this highly competitive market, firms in both industrialized and developing countries are adopting quality management programs. The demand for quality is no longer the prerogative of the industrialized world; with the adoption of international quality standards such as ISO 9000, quality is emerging as one of the most important factors for all businesses competing in the global marketplace.

Although a number of people have extensively examined quality management in industrialized countries such as U.S., Japan, U.K., and other European countries, it is only in recent years that a few researchers have begun to examine quality practices in developing countries. Comparative studies benchmarking quality practices between countries are also sparse. Of the few comparative studies, most have examined quality programs in two or more industrialized countries (e.g., Ernst &

Young, 1991); very few (e.g., Knotts & Tomlin, 1994) have benchmarked quality programs in developing countries with those in industrialized countries. In general, this literature suggests that the quality movement was lagging in developing countries that were perceived as producers of poorer quality products.

These differences in quality management practices between industrialized and developing countries, however, appear to be decreasing with the weakening of trade barriers, the opening of markets to multinational competitors, and the spread of international quality standards such as ISO 9000 to developing countries. Today, developing countries are beginning to see dramatic improvements in quality, and research is needed to examine quality practices and TQM programs in such countries. Hence, it is important for researchers to examine quality practices in developing countries and to benchmark their practices against those in industrialized countries.

In this research we attempt to expand the literature by examining the current status of TQM programs in Costa Rica, and benchmarking them against TQM programs in the U.S. Benchmarking is the process of developing measures for business units to identify weaknesses and strengths (Lawrence, 1989). …

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