What is the quality culture of a country?

Publications on the development of National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) often mention the concept of quality culture. As an example, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) publications cite the development of a “demand-oriented” or “sustainable quality culture” as the goal of a National Quality Policy. [1] Unfortunately, this term is not further defined, leaving considerable room for interpretation.

There is more clarity about the concept of quality culture at the micro level of companies and production processes. In Quality Management (QM), quality culture is seen as a constituting element of the corporate culture. The latter refers to a set of shared values and beliefs which interact with an organization’s people, structure and systems to produce behavioural norms. [2]

The quality culture of a company focuses on delighting customers and continuously improving the quality of products and services. First and foremost, the creation of a culture of quality is a task for top management and requires such a culture to be lived by the managers themselves („walk your talk“).

But also, all other employees need to play their specific role. Only if they internalize the quality culture, the company can succeed in producing quality. This goes beyond following formal quality guidelines, and requires that employees really “live” quality in all their actions.

Here it is important to define what is meant by quality in the first place. According to the ISO 9001 definition, quality is meeting customer requirements and strive to exceed customer expectations. Here the customers and their quality awareness receive particular attention.

A problem is that the quality of a product is not always visible to the customer. If there is no market transparency and asymmetric information, the customer decides on the product with the best price. In extreme cases, this leads to a situation in which inferior quality replaces high-quality products (called “quality paradox”).

If we speak about quality culture at the level of a country, we must look at companies, consumers and the government. Analogous to the need to inform customers at the microlevel, consumers need trustworthy information from national level sources in order to be able to choose between different product qualities. The general education of consumers is elementary for making this deliberate choice. However, (certified) quality labels are also important to inform customers and consumers, which are typically required either by private standards or by technical regulations.

For the promotion of the National Quality System in developing and emerging countries, a deeper understanding of the concept of quality culture is particularly important. Without a clear understanding of this concept, it is difficult, if not impossible, to establish a national system for metrology, standards, accreditation and conformity assessment consistently and coherently. In order to reach this conceptual understanding, we as Mesopartner – being a consultancy firm involved in the promotion of Quality Infrastructure – suggest the following research questions:

  1. On which factors does the quality culture of a country depend?
  2. Which actors influence the quality culture of a country?
  3. How can the quality culture of a country be measured?
  4. Is the definition of a country’s quality culture universal or does it differ according to national or local culture?
  5. Can concepts of quality culture be transferred from the company level to the national level?
  6. What role can international development cooperation play in promoting quality culture in developing and emerging countries, and where are its limits?

Mesopartner invites clients, collaboration partners and other interested researchers, consultants and practitioners in the field of Quality Infrastructure to jointly think about answers to these questions. Please share your ideas on this platform, establish links to other researchers and practitioners interested in this topic and let us enter into an interesting discussion.


[1] UNIDO (2018). Quality Policy – Technical Guide. Vienna/ Austria.

[2] Singh Malh, R. (2013). “Creating and Sustaining: A Quality Culture.” Journal of Defense Management, Special Issue A World View Defense and Human Security, 4 pages

[3] Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Culture

This entry was posted in Quality culture, Quality Infrastructure, Quality Management by Dr. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dr. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke

Dr Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke is a global expert in the field of international economic development cooperation. With more than 25 years of consulting experience, he is active in all phases of a project and program development (preparation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation) and collaborates with various implementing organizations and development banks (German Development Cooperation - GIZ and PTB -, Inter-American Development Bank, European Union and United Nations). He has consulting experience in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. Dr.Harmes-Liedtke is an experienced trainer and process consultant. He works with groups and teams to reflect on their situation and to then formulate change projects to improve their reality. He enables dialogue, facilitates and designs workshops, processes, and sense-making processes. He is certified in facilitation, mediation, and communication techniques which allow him to deal with sensitive, diverse, and even conflict situations. He supports systemic economic development in various roles: • As an expert and trainer in international trade, national quality policies, industrial policy, clusters, and global value chains • As a process consultant in designing and leading diagnostic processes that result in change, adaptation, and improvement • As a facilitator of dialogue, workshops, training, and sense-making processes • As a transdisciplinary researcher in the field of systemic economic development Born 1965, Ph.D. in political science and economics (Bremen 1999), MA in economics (Diplom-Volkswirt) (Hamburg 1991). German nationality.

1 thought on “What is the quality culture of a country?

  1. A very good look at the components of quality culture. I feel that if we stick to the definitions, a quality culture will have certain basic components that are thesame, regardless of the company or country. Nevertheless, how each company or country interpret these basic components are unique so the quality culture will also be unique. For example, all oranges have the same basic components, but not all oranges look the same.

    Liked by 1 person

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