monash_7075.pdf (652.16 kB)
Quality in the Eye of the Perceiver: A Cultural Analysis of the Quality Movement
journal contributionposted on 2017-06-05, 06:55 authored by Bell, Wendy
This paper presents findings relating to cultural perceptions of quality derived from a research project analysing public responses to the debate over the introduction of satellite-delivered television in Australia in the late 1980s. Each of the parties to the debate was classified as fitting one of four different cultural types, described by Mary Douglas, the well-known British anthropologist and her colleagues as matching a particular "cultural bias". Perceptions of quality were found to differ markedly amongst the four different cultural types who exhibited a tendency to co-opt the concept of "quality" to justify their own moral positions. Not surprisingly, public broadcasters were found to perceive "quality" as maintaining "high standards" (eg classic musical opera), while commercial broadcasters, by comparison, perceived quality according to its "market appeal" (popular "soap operas"). Community and independent broadcasters equated quality with "social responsibility", for example, community control, access and participation. Fatalists were limited to the choices provided by the other three. This paper examines constructs of culture and quality in the light of these findings, and suggests implications for adding explanatory power to models designed to investigate how quality management impacts on organisational success.