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Title: ISO 9000 QMS : a strategic business development agent or a production quality assurance and marketing tool : the Greek agro-coops' experience
Author: Dimitropoulos, E.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2011
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A serious business issue, recurring in the public debate held in Greece and concerning the future of the Agricultural sector, is the stated need of the Agro-coops’ sector’s organisational and operational reform and improvement (Karamichas, 2008; Tolios, 2003). This identified and/or suggested required strategic business development and change is considered to be a product and at the same time the source of the agro-coops’ required organisational performance improvement, as Kamenidis (2008), Arvanitoyiannis (2001) and Parnell (2000) suggest. Furthermore, they relate this strategic business development and change, and performance improvement process with the agro-coops’ business processes’ reconfiguration and resulting improvement. According to the majority of the proposed economic and business models, the major mechanism to accomplish the aforementioned aim - that is the strategic choice of the Agro-coops’ sector for operating effectively and efficiently - is and/or should be the adoption of the privately owned businesses’ sector organisational framework (Karamichas, 2008; Parnell, 2000). Furthermore, the agro-coops have to combine these adopted elements and practices with the particularities of the agricultural business sector, as Ian McPherson (1995) emphatically states. On the other hand, the distinct ownership structure of the agro-coops which is more democratic than hierarchical makes the implementation of change more difficult. In the Greek business environment, many authors (Karaiskaki, 2003; Arvanitoyiannis and Kourtis, 2002) relate this required organisational performance improvement with the effective implementation and efficient use of the adopted and developed by the agro-coops ISO 9000 QMS, which is the particular focus of this final thesis’ document. According to them, this model represents one of the best business practices for the Greek agro-Unions achieving improved business processes and product quality. These, by their turn, may lead the agro-Unions enjoying improved organisational performance and consequently business and financial state. On the other hand, as Kokkinos (2009) and Arvanitoyiannis (2001) state, the Greek agro-Unions’ business sector has being suffering the last two to three decades from: IV 1. outdated managerial practices and business behaviour, 2. insufficient “investment” in human resources due to inappropriate recruitment and development of them by the required educational and training programmes, 3. competitive relations between the Board of Directors’ elected members and the professional managers, as well as among the members of these two groups, 4. undermined business status and endangered financial position, 5. inappropriate and not clearly defined operational (actual management and strategic decision-making process) framework as far as authority, responsibility and accountability issues are concerned, 6. interference of external parties aiming at serving their own interests. Based on these aforementioned identified weaknesses, required reform actions and proposed business models of organisational change and strategic business development, the researcher decided to focus his entire DBA research project and this final thesis research study on the critical investigation, analysis and evaluation of the ISO 9000 QMS’ business status and manner of implementation process and use purpose in the Greek Agro-Unions’ business sector. The main research question was and is: what are the driving and restraining forces that influence how efficiently and effectively the Greek agro-Unions have been implementing and using ISO 9000 QMS. During 2005-2006, the researcher conducted a series of case studies research, including both a qualitative research based on in-depth interviews and a quantitative research based on a large scale, cross-sectional survey in a fair number of Greek agro-coops for critically investigating, analysing and evaluating this main research question. Moreover, he also proceeded to the thorough investigation of these aforementioned major research aims in this final thesis’ qualitative research study, which was conducted from March to September of 2007, by in-depth interviewing 62/sixty two key stakeholders - them being: the Board of Directors’ elected members (especially the Presidents), General Managers and Quality & Production managers - of 21/twenty one agro-Unions and 7/seven Confederations of them, which represent the 30% of the sector’s population. These main research aims were accomplished by the exploration and critical evaluation V of the researched agro-Unions’ key stakeholders’ perceptions, attitudes and practices towards ISO 9000 QMS’ business nature, and operational and strategic business properties. Because, as Oakland (2003) and Foster (2001) believe, any quality management system’s effective implementation process and efficient use purpose are strongly based on and influenced by the corporate stakeholders’ “business stance” - that is their attitudes and business practices - towards it. This final thesis’ qualitative research study is mainly empirical in nature, but it also uses the existing literature and theories concerning this research topic, other researches’ findings and this DBA research project’s previous phases’ outcomes. It suggests, in accordance to the entire DBA research project, that ISO 9000 QMS’ effective implementation and efficient use could be a competitive model of business practice for the Greek agro-Unions achieving strategic business development and change, through their business processes and consequently organisational performance improvement. Furthermore, it hypothesises that the Greek agro-Unions and their key stakeholders are using ISO 9000 QMS as a strategic resource-competence for achieving the aforementioned strategic aim, despite these corporations’ existing business status, financial position and managerial practices, as well as organisational context and settings, and operational framework. The research study’s main findings are: i) rival relations among the key stakeholders' groups and even between members of the same group, ii) outdated managerial practices and business behaviour related with: iii) inappropriate and inadequate decision making process and actual management, both associated with, iv) the stakeholders exhibiting a paternalistic view and pursuing personal and even external parties' - political interests; v) lack of accountability in terms of the decision making process and outcomes, as far as the elected members of the BoDs is concerned; vi) not clearly defined and used in actual practice lines of authority, responsibility and accountability between the BoDs' elected members and the professional managers; vii) Key stakeholders' groups' (especially the BoDs' members') lack of and/or limited knowledge of and training on business issues in general and ISO 9000 QMS' business nature and properties in particular; resulting in connection with the previous findings to viii) improper use of these systems' operational properties in a fair number of agro-Unions; and ix) non-use of the strategic one aiming at the strategic business development through the VI improvement of business processes in the majority of them; x) adoption and practice of an externally imposed, breakthrough change process being followed by an incremental one, which in most cases is based on benchmarking and adopting the agro-Union's strategic business partner-private sector's company; xi) business competence based on seniority of years occupancy as member of the BoDs (BoDs' members) versus business competence based on educational knowledge and business experience as professional manager (professional managers). In relation to and as a result of the aforementioned the researcher’s recommendations for change are: a) policy and legal changes concerning the authority, responsibility and accountability issues by: i) a new statute referring to the agro-Unions’ ownership shareholding scheme, ii) the use of an independent external agent for auditing the agro-Unions’ business operations and financial results, and attributing accountability to the involved stakeholders respectively, iii) clearly defined and established by the PASEGES lines of authority and responsibility between the BoDs’ elected members and the professional managers in terms of actual operational and strategic management and decision making process; b) adoption and practice of a “new’’ scheme concerning the continuous training in business issues, as well as in cooperative issues of all the stakeholders, them being: the BoDs’ elected members and the professional managers in order for them acquiring the required business competence for properly deciding and managing the operational and strategic business issues. This training programme could be provided by the PASEGES and/or University schools in the form of educational programmes and business practice of three to six months each time, c) recruitment and advancement of the professional managers based on managerial and business competence and on achievement of objectives, d) audit of ISO 9000 QMS’ management and development by an independent external agent in cooperation with state agencies for assuring the systems’ actual development and use according to ISO 9000 Guidelines and the agro-Union’s quality and corporate business plan.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available