A significant factor in the evolution of modern, competitive economies has been a shift towards value chain integration across some firms. Multi-firm collaboration enables organizations to address the increased complexity of products, increased rates of change, and the breadth of knowledge needed to develop, produce, and deliver products and services. An enabler of integration has been the use of private, voluntary technical and managerial standards, which have evolved from technical manufacturing and purchasing specifications to whole firm managerial approaches, exemplified by the Baldrige Excellence Framework and Shingo Model in the U.S. and the EFQM Excellence Model in multiple countries.
Voluntary managerial standards per se are typically too broadly stated to permit a research focus sufficiently narrow for the evaluation of factors and outcomes in many research methods. Because of the growing importance of management standards, techniques for translating the elements of such standards into research-based concepts need to be developed.
Several areas merit inquiry when basing research on voluntary managerial standards:
- Distinguishing technical from managerial standards.
- Techniques for translating management standards into researchable topics (disaggregation, method choice, etc.).
- The use of mixed methods research models in defining and refining managerial standards-based research methods.
- Reliability, bias issues, and suitable research methods for designs based on managerial standards.