Journal article

On the inclusion of sustainability and digitalisation in quality management–an overview from past to present


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Publication Details

Author list: Mårtensson, Anna

Publication year: 2020

ISSN: 1478-3363


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The aim of this study is to explore whether trends in sustainability and digitalisation from the 1980s until today have left any significant practical or epistemological footprints on the quality management paradigm. The study design consists of a mixed-methods approach that applies a data-mining methodology and content analysis to the digital archives of eight scientific journals: six within the quality management (QM) domain and two with a focus on operations management (OM). The data set contains an unbroken time series of over 12,000 research paper abstracts, the first of them published in 1980, giving the study a coverage of almost 40 years. The findings show that sustainability came onto the scholarly scene in 1996 and has since become an increasingly popular research area. In regard to digitalisation, the story is quite different, as the concept is currently absent from the scholarly QM and OM literatures. However, a search for information technology (IT) and information systems (IS) revealed that these topics have been gaining attention since the 1980s. However, it was found that QM research only addresses one part of digitalisation, omitting several interesting dimensions. One example is that the QM and OM literatures address IS mainly in relation to standardised guidelines and business processes within organisations. At the same time, we found a handful of studies combining QM and topics related to modern digitisation, like social media.


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