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This research investigates how small enterprises differ from large enterprises in adopting and using TQM practices. This comparison of performance in TQM practices is based on the items in the Baldrige criteria. The scores of 86 applicants to a state quality award were statistically analyzed to look for any significant differences in the scores based on the size of the applicant. The feedback reports provided by the examiners were used to explain the significant differences in scores. The analysis indicates that the scores of small enterprises were significantly lower than medium and large enterprises. The lower scores reflect a lack of sustained, formal quality strategy and a lower priority given to continuous improvement. Information management in benchmarking and determination of employee and customer satisfaction also contribute to the lower scores.
This study alerts consultants and managers to the possible areas that small enterprises need to focus on to get the best out of their TQM implementation. The study also indicates that the formality of the criteria in assessment tools such as the Baldrige award criteria may not be very suitable for small enterprises. Past research about the use of TQM in small and medium enterprises for the most part use self-reported data and rarely provide comparison to large enterprises. The study compares the performance of small enterprises with large enterprises and provides objective data to confirm the differences in performance of small enterprises in TQM practices.
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