In many industries (e.g. cars, electronics, clothing) manufacturing complexity and unpredictability have increased in recent years because of increasing product variety and shortening product life cycles. At the same time, manufacturers in these industries appear to have more problems with maintaining high quality levels. This research is a study of how the two trends of increasing product variety and shortening product life cycles affect quality management systems. The empirical part of the research consists of case studies at two car manufacturers and a truck manufacturer, and of a questionnaire survey among a sample of Western European automotive suppliers. This research takes a novel approach to quality management research by applying a model from the field of management control (i.e. Simons’ four levers of control model). The application of this control model in the field of quality management is found to be useful in explaining how contextual factors influence the management of quality in organisations. In situations of shortening product life cycles, the empirical data clearly support the increased use of participative and cooperative quality control systems, as hypothesised by the research model. However, in situations of increasing product variety the hypothesised increase in participative control systems has not been found.

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Brown, A., Dale, B.G., Sohal, A.S., Wiele, T. van der, Williams, A.R.T.
A.R.T. Williams (Roger) , B.G. Dale (Barry)
Erasmus University Rotterdam , Erasmus Research Institute of Management
ERIM Ph.D. Series Research in Management
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

van Iwaarden, J. (2006, September 28). Changing Quality Controls: The Effects of Increasing Product Variety and Shortening Product Life Cycles (No. EPS-2006-084-ORG). ERIM Ph.D. Series Research in Management. Retrieved from