Definition of quality

“Quality” is a very commonly used word. We talk about quality handwork, quality food or a quality product. Most of the time when we use the word quality we mean good quality. Even though in latin – the origins of the word – “qualitas” means “of what kind, of such a kind”. In the online Oxford Diccionaries (Howitt 1986; “quality” is is defined as “the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something”. There are various scientists and organizations which provide their own definition of quality. Summarized it can be said, that…

Evolution of quality

The history of quality goes back a very long way and is as old as production itself. At the beginning of the 19th century due the division of labour (Taylorism) products got produced and delivered to the customer without a systematic inspection of the product. So the error rate was very high. This is when quality control arose. Specialists were hired to inspect products produced regarding their correctness. At this time the focus was not yet on reducing costs and improving quality. Over time, more sophisticated quality controls were being introduced and moved into the production process so faulty components could be detected at an earlier stage and therefore could be removed from the production process.

Later statistical methods came into use for the quality control and quality assurance of the products. For this a quality control chart was being used so when a faulty product was identified, it was possible to intervene on time so a error-free end product was produced.

In the 1950s Deming1 and Juran2, two of the most influential people regarding quality development, emigrated from the United States to Japan to implement the concept of quality management in order to increase production. According to their idea a quality system is based on the continuous improvement process. Only in the 1980s this management philosophy called Kaizen returned from Japan to Europe and the United States (see also chapter 5.7).

For a long time quality work was seen as a task of a specialized department in an organization. Only at the beginning of the 1980s the concept of total quality management, in which all employees in a company are responsible for the quality, was getting integrated in the Western companies. (Koch 2011, 185-186).

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