Definition of Quality

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The concept and vocabulary of quality is elusive. Different people interpret quality differently. Few can define quality in measurable terms that can be operational. When asked what differentiate their product or service, health care worker will answer “quality health care,” the banker will answer “service,” the manufacturer will simply answer “quality product,” and the hotel restaurant employee will answer “customer satisfaction.” When pressed to provide a specific definition and measurement, few can do so. There is an old maxim in management that says, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” and so it is with quality. If strategic management systems and the competitive advantage are to be based on quality, every member of the organization should be clear about this concept, definition, and measurement as it applies to his or her job. Harvard professor David Garvin summarized five principal approaches to defining quality. First of it is transcendental view of quality. Those who hold transcendental view would say, “I can’t define it, but I know when I see it.” Advertisers are fond of promoting products in these terms. “Where shopping is a pleasure” for supermarket, “We love to fly and it shows” for airline, and “It means beautiful eyes” for cosmetics are example. Next is the product-based view. Product based definitions are different. Quality is viewed as quantifiable and measurable characteristics or attributes. For example durability or reliability can be measured, and the engineer can design to that benchmark. Quality is determined objectively. Although this approach has many benefits, it has limitations as well. Where quality is based on individual taste or preference, the benchmark for measurement may be misleading. Then, the next principal is the user-based view. User based definitions are based on the idea that quality is an individual matter, and products that best satisfy their preferences are those with the highest quality. This is a rational...
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