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澳洲Essay:在服务行业质量圈的有效性:EFFECTIVENESS OF QUALITY
  

澳洲Essay:在服务行业质量圈的有效性:EFFECTIVENESS OF QUALITY CIRCLES IN TH
CONTENTS
 
1. Introduction  2
2. Philosophical Streams in Management Research  3
3. Past Researches on QCs in the Service Sector and their Limitations  4
4. Problems in Initiating and Sustaining QCs in the Service Sector  6
5. Social Constructionism as Research Philosophy  8
6. Research Methodology and Methods  8
7.  Value  of  Ethnography  and  Participant  Observation  in  the  study  of         
teams  10
8. Summary  11
 References  12
 
质量圈(QCS)是小团体的志愿者做类似或相关的工作,定期召开会议,识别,分析和解决产品质量和生产问题,并改善整体的操作(Munchus,1983)。御用的支持者认为这种参与技术用于广泛的积极成果,无论是在制造或服务行业。然而,实证研究指出,在服务部门的质控质控点出现,那些在制造(寺戴尔,1989年Beaumont等,1996; Solis等人,1998年;·阿卜杜勒 - 阿齐兹等人面对更多的困难。 2000年ABO血型Alhol等,2005)。在本文中,它的目的是研究的因素是负责服务部门的御用问题的实施和研究方法等因素,价值观,信仰,社会交往会影响他们的实现和性能。此外,它的目的是探讨不同的意见,QC成员御用的目的和宗旨,在服务行业的御用实施的影响。为了研究这个问题,本研究论文提出了一个解释途径。在解释选择这个特别的方法的原因,重要的是要提供的一般看法不同的哲学立场和基本的研究方法和设计管理研究。在组织学定义广泛的领域中,一些不同的方法来探索和研究的证据。根据Burrel)和摩根士丹利(Morgan(1979)的社会科学家们的工作方式通过显式或隐式的假设,社会世界和自然的方式,它可能是调查他们的主题。现实的性质不同的假设,价值观和信仰,什么是有效的知识倾斜的社会科学家对不同的研究方法和研究工具。关于如何最好地进行研究,在过去的几十年里,一直从事科学和方法论的哲学家,在长期辩论。两种方法,实证主义和诠释学传统的学术研究中心。这些方法反映了两种根本不同的思想流派,被广泛采用作为管理科学的认识论立场。因此,每个需要被理解为科学家们开展的业务和管理方面的研究(卡拉米等人,2006年,桑德斯等人,2007)。接下来,将说明这两种方法的基波分量。
 
1. Introduction
 
Quality circles  (QCs)  are  small  groups  of  volunteers  doing  similar  or  related  work, which  meet  regularly  to  identify,  analyse,  and  solve  product-quality and  production problems,  and  to  improve  general  operations  (Munchus,  1983).  QCs  proponents suggest  a  wide  array  of  positive  results  when  this participation  technique  is  used, either  in  manufacturing  or  in  service  sector.  However,  empirical  research  on  QCs points out that QCs in the service sector appear to face additional difficulties to those in  manufacturing  (Temple  &  Dale,  1989;  Beaumont  et al.,  1996;  Solis  et  al.,  1998; Abdul-Aziz  et  al.,  2000;  Abo-  Alhol  et  al.,  2005). In  this  paper,  it  is  intended  to examine the factors that are responsible for the problematic implementation of QCs in  service  sector  and  study  the  ways  that  factors  such  as,  values,  beliefs,  social interaction  affect  their  implementation  and  performance.  Moreover,  it  is  intended  to investigate  the  different  views  of  QC  members  about  the  purpose  and  aim  of  QCs, and  their  impact  on the implementation  of  QCs in  the  service  sector.  This  research paper  adopts  an  interpretive  approach  in  order  to  investigate  the  subject.  Before explaining the reasons for choosing this particular approach it is important to provide a  general  view  of  the  different  philosophical  positions  and  underlying  research methods and designs in management research. 

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/ Within  the  broadly  defined  field  of  organisational science,  a  number  of  different approaches to inquiry and research are in evidence. According to Burrel and Morgan (1979)  social  scientists  approach  their  subject  via  explicit  or  implicit  assumptions about  the  nature  of  the  social  world  and  the  way  in  which  it  may  be  investigated.  Different  assumptions,  values  and  beliefs  about  the  nature  of  reality  and  what constitutes  valid  knowledge  incline  social  scientists  towards  different  research methodologies and research tools.   During  the  last  decades,  philosophers  of  science  and  methodologists  have  been engaged  in  long  standing  debates  about  how  best  to conduct  research.  Traditional academic  research  has  centred  on  two  approaches,  positivism  and  interpretivism. These  approaches  reflect  two  fundamentally  different  schools  of  thought  and  are widely  adopted  as  epistemological  positions  in  management  sciences.  Thus,  each needs  to  be  understood  for  scientists  to  undertake business  and  management research  (Karami  et  al.,  2006,  Saunders  et  al.,  2007).  Following,  the  fundamental component of these two approaches will be illustrated.
 
2. Philosophical Streams in Management Research
 
Positivism,  is  the  “epistemological  position  that  advocates  working  with  an observable  social  reality”  (Saunders  et  al.,  2007).  Positivists  believe  that  there  is certain  objectivity  about  reality  which  is  quantifiable,  independent  of  the  researcher and  as  Bassey  (1990:19)  suggests,  exists  "irrespective  of  people".  There  are  two assumptions; an ontological assumption, that reality is external and objective (naïve realism);  and  second,  an  epistemological  assumption,  that  knowledge  is  only  of significance  if  it based  on  observation  of  this  external  reality  (Easterby-Smith  et  al., 2002).  Moreover,  positivism  holds  that  an  accurate and  value-free  knowledge  of things  is  possible  (Fisher,  2004)  and  according  to  theorists  (Giedymin,  1975) positivism  in  the  “strict”  sense  means  that  social sciences  have  basically  the  same aims and methods as the natural sciences. As a result, the collected data tend to be numerical  and  are  open  to  interpretation  by  use  of statistics  and  mathematical analysis.  Typically  within  organisations  such  data are  gathered  through  surveys, questionnaires and tests (Skinner et al., 2000). Another important component of the positivist  approach  to  research  is  the  reduction  of  science  to  statements  about directly observable facts and the elimination as meaningless of any sentence that is neither  analytic  nor  empirical  (Morgan  &  Smirchich,  1980).  In  other  words, phenomena  are  better  understood  if  they  are  reduced  into  the  simplest  possible elements.   Furthermore,  positivism  uses  quantitative  and  experimental  methods  to  test hypothetical  deductive  generalizations  (Burrell  and  Morgan,  1993;  Remenyi  et  al, 1998).  Credible  data  are  data  that  you  can  observe and  are  produced  by  using existing  theory  to  develop  and  test  hypotheses.  The  hypotheses  will  be  tested  and confirmed, in whole or part, or refuted, leading to the further development of theory and  general  laws  which  may  then  be  tested  by  further  research  (Saunders  et  al., 2007). In research terminology, positivist research is said to be generalisable, which means that a finding in one situation can be predicted to recur in another given the same  set  of  variables  and  conditions.  Thus,  it  is  necessary  to  select  samples  of sufficient  size,  from  which  inferences  may  be  drawn  about  the  wider  population (Easterby-Smith  et  al.,  2002).  In  addition,  because  of  the  reliability  of  the  data positivists utilize them to predict what will happen in the future (Allan, 1998).
On  the  other  hand, interpretivism  is  an  epistemology  that  advocates  that  it  is necessary for the researcher to understand differences between humans in their role as  social  actors  (Saunders  et  al.,  2007). Interpretivist  researchers  perceive multiple realities since reality is perceived as a construct of the human mind. In a world open to  different  interpretations  of  what  is  real  no  one  reality  exists  irrespective  of individuals (Allan, 1998). Moreover, interpretivist research is perceived as a process of  describing,  interpreting  and  seeking  understanding  and  possibilities,  in  order  to reach  a  shared  meaning,  and  not  as  a  search  for  causal  relationships,  external causes or fundamental laws (Amaratunga et al, 2002).   The  nature  of  the  approach  and  the  data  collected  by  interpretivists  preclude predictions  being  made  on  the  basis  of  the  research  undertaken.  Interpretivist research tends to centre on singularities, an account of particular events or a specific business or location, although they will categorise and label the processes for dealing with particulars. A feature of interpretivist research is that it is difficult to understand how  others  make  sense  of  things  unless  you  have  an insightful  knowledge  of  your own  values  and  thinking  processes.  In  research terms, this knowledge  is  known  as reflexivity  (Fisher,  2004;  Mantzaris,  2004).  Interpretivist  research  is  therefore  not generalisable to other situations in the same way as positivist research. However, the findings can be said to be 'relatable' and to have a wider resonance (Mason, 1996), such that they can shape the work of others in situations where there are sufficient similarities  to  the  original  research.  Such  research  may  involve  prolonged  contact with  people  and  groups  in  their  everyday  situations.  The  data  can  be  collected  by using  interviews,  focus groups  or observation  and may  be  in  the form  of  spoken  or written words (Fisher, 2004). 
 
3. Past Researches on QCs in the Service Sector and their Limitations
 
Both  epistemological  positions  and  the  methods  they  include  are  important  in management sciences and research.  However, according to Hoskisson et al (1999), although,  case  study  based  approaches  and  the  use  of  qualitative  methods  had dominated  the  early  history  of  management,  the  dominance  of  questionnaires  as data  collection  tools  suggests  a  leaning  towards  positivism,  and  quantification  in knowledge construction in management. This  tendency  is  also  apparent  in  studies  and  researches  concerning  QCs  in  both service  and  industry  sector.  As  a  result,  most  of  the  empirical  researches  on  this quality  management  practice  adopt  a  positivist  approach  and  use  quantitative methods  to  analyse  their  data.  There  are  several  studies  that  examine  and investigate the use of QMP (Quality Management Practices) and QCs in the service sector  (Badri  et  al.,  1995;  Sillince  et  al.,  1996; Solis  et  al.,  1998).  The  majority  of them  use  questionnaires  or  factor  analysis  in  order  to  identify  and  analyse  a predetermined number of factors or dimensions of quality management practices that contribute to their  efficient  implementation.  The  purpose  of these studies  is  to  track down and validate a set of measures of success of QCs that can be also used and applied  to  other  QCs,  and  so  their  employment  can  contribute  to  their  efficient implementation.  Similarly,  other  studies  are  concentrated  on  the  development  of models of the relationships between QMP and performance by using statistical and factor  analysis  (Flynn  et  al.,  1995;  Sureshchandar et  al.,  2001).  The  application  of these models it is argued to contribute to the measurement of QCs performance and aim  to  identify  areas  for  improvement.  In  addition,  other  researchers  conducted surveys  on  the  operating  characteristics  of  service  sector  circle  programmes  to determine  the  factors  that  are  critical  in  their  successful  introduction  in  service organizations  (Eisen  et  al.,  1991,  Abo-Alhol,  2005).  Other  studies  that  relied  on quantitative  questionnaire  data  examined  the  nature  and  extent  of  employee involvement  in  QM  through  teamworking  and  described  the  methods  which management  used  to  encourage  teamworking  in  order  to  enhance  its  performance (Rees, 1999).  These  researches  offer  useful  and  significant  information  about  several characteristics  of  QCs  and  the  factors  that  may  affect  their  performance.  Also,  the positivist  paradigm1  and  quantitative  methods  are  important  in  quality management as they can provide a wide coverage of a range of situations (Scandura & Williams, 2000).  However,  this  information  tends  to  be  rather  inflexible  and  artificial.  Quality circles  are  not  just  a  quality  management practice  or  an  employee  participation technique that  confront  with  quality  problems  in  the  workplace.  They  are  groups  of people that cooperate, communicate, exchange ideas and beliefs and consequently, a  nexus  of  relationships  is  created.  Data  provided from  quantitative  tools,  such  as questionnaires,  are  superficial  and  do  not  offer  adequate  information  about  the nature of social interactions within the circles (Earterby-Smith et al., 2002). Issues of ideology,  participants’  behaviour,  values  and  beliefs,  as  well  as  employees’  view  of the purpose and use of QCs are difficult to evaluate, but are critical and determinant for  the  successful  implementation  of  these  quality programmes.  The  efficient  and successful  implementation  of  QCs  cannot  be  determined  by  a  particular  number  of factors.  It  is  also  difficult  to  categorize  and  identify  those  factors,  since  social interactions,  attitudes  and  individuals’  perception  about  the  use  of  QCs,  are  far  too complex  to  be  investigated  and  analysed  using  quantitative  data.  Moreover, statistical  models  and  instruments  are  unable  to  interpret  human  feelings  and  to provide a holistic view, through the participants’ own words and perceptions, of how they understand, account for and act within QCs. Thus, in a social environment with no  concrete  structure  where  human  beings  actively  contribute  to  its  creation, quantitative methods become increasingly unsatisfactory and inappropriate (Morgan & Smirchich,1980). While research into resources and processes is predominantly of a positivist nature, enquiry into leadership, teamwork, people management and policy is located within the interpretivist epistemology (Allan, 1998).  In order to further analyse the adopted epistemological approach and to explain the reasons  for  considering  it  to  be  more  appropriate  than  the  positivist  approach,  it  is important  to  indicate  some  of  the  problems  that  QCs  in  the  service  sector  face. Getting  an  insight  into  these  problems  will  give  a better  understanding  of  their  real nature and will support our view that the interpretivist approach is more appropriate for  investigating  the  implementation  of  QCs  and  for  tracking  down  the  sources  of these problems.

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