Human resource management practices that encourage continuous quality improvement practices in small and medium-sized enterprises in the food processing sector in Thailand

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Management


Faculty of Business and Law


This research aims to identify the Human Resource Management Practices (HRMPs) that encourage the Continuous Quality Improvement Practices (CQIPs) in Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs) in Thailand. The multiple methods approach was used for the data collection of this research in order to provide triangulation of the data. The HRMPs that encourage CQIPs were identified based on the statistically significant regression coefficients. Implications for the practitioners and the academia were drawn and future research themes were suggested.

The first stage of data collection was the case studies using semi structured interviews with eight SMEs selected for convenience from four provinces around Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. The second stage was the nation-wide survey carried out in 45 major cities of Thailand from which 208 responses to the questionnaire were usable for the analysis.

Findings from the case studies and the surveys were concluded together. This research investigated CQIPs in three areas: employee participation, process improvement and customer oriented production. It was found that CQIPs in SMEs were mostly informal. Suggestions by employees informally to the owners and delegation of decision making to supervisors were the main practices for employee participation. Process improvement was based on the competence of the owners and key areas of efficiency optimisation were costs and lateness of delivery. Long-term trading with suppliers was favoured but without any documented supply agreement. Conformance to standards and regulations was requested by customers or government authorities but some cooperation with supporting organisations was voluntary. The firms acquired feedback from customers through salespersons and the owners. Social alignment was made through activities with consumers‟ organisations.

HRMPs used in the SMEs in the food processing sector in Thailand were examined in four aspects: recruitment, training, compensation and appraisal. In the aspect of recruitment, the most used source of employees was referrals from existing employees, the main selection method was interview and qualifications most sought were honesty and willingness to work. In the aspect of training, most of the firms used supervisors as the trainers for informal on-the-job training. No budget or a very small budget was allocated for training and very a small number of employees were trained. Work methods were the main contents for training. In the aspect of compensation, wages were paid based on skills and experience with overtime pay as the most desirable additional income for employees. A wide variety of non-monetary benefits was provided while incentives were used mainly for urgent work. In the aspect of appraisal, most of the firms had no appraisal. Appraisals used were informally made by the owners using personal conduct and work performance as the main criteria. Appraisal results were used mainly for wage rate increases.

The HRMPs that encouraged CQIPs were identified based on the regression coefficients using Linear Multiple Regression with the method that all the independent variables (HRMPs) in a given scope were entered into the analysis in a single step. The HRMPs that their coefficients were statistically significant at the level of .05 or less were construed to be the HRMPs that encourage CQIPs.

All of the HRMPs were found to encourage CQIPs but the number of CQIPs encouraged by each HRMP differed. In the function of recruitment, HRMPs in this category include two sources of employees: the referrals from the existing employees and the Government Job Centre, an employee selection method: the interviews by supervisor and two qualifications of applicants: education and personal characteristics. In the function of training, the HRMPs that encourage relatively large number of CQIPs include four types of trainers: the owners, supervisors, co-workers and trainers from private firms; a training content: team skills; two types of information used as training needs: employees‟ complaints and accidents. It is observed that the trainers from Government Training Centre do not encourage any CQIPs. In the function of compensation, the HRMPs that encourage relatively large number of CQIPs included two types of the qualifications used to determine primary compensation: education and personal characteristics; two types of monetary benefit: education allowance and overtime pay; three types of non-monetary benefit: recognition, outfits and parties in occasions. In the function of appraisal, the HRMPs that encourage relatively large number of CQIPs include three types of appraiser: the owners, supervisors and customers and a type of appraisal: group appraisal.

It is observed that the HRMPs that encouraged a relatively large number of CQIPs were in the functions of training and employee performance appraisal. Overall relationships between HRMPs and CQIPs indicated the importance of supervisors in SMEs. The roles of supervisors in employee selection, training and appraisal encouraged a large number of CQIPs in all three areas of employee participation, process improvement and customer oriented production. It is observed that most of the statistically significant relationships were related to the quite formal practices of both HRMPs and CQIPs. A few HRMPs related to the roles of the owners showed some negative impacts on CQIPs.

The impacts of the characteristics of the firms on CQIPs and HRMPs and the impacts of CQIPs and HRMPs on business results were analysed using the same statistical technique. Among the characteristics of the firms, only education of the owners indicated impacts on several CQIPs and HRMPs. Size of the firms affected a small number of CQIPs and HRMPs but age of the firm, age of the owners and experience of the owners did not affect any CQIPs or HRMPs. Both CQIPs and HRMPs were associated with some aspects of satisfaction of the owners with their business results.

For business practitioners, implications and suggestions arising from this research were related to the developments of supervisors and the owners in cooperation with governmental organisations, education institutions and industrial organisations. By working together on the HRMPs suggested in this research, these groups could further quality and productivity in Thai SMEs. Future research themes for academia were suggested to be further investigation into the „cause and effect‟ relationships between HRMPs and CQIPs and the appropriate roles of the supporting organisations.

LCSH Subject Headings

Total quality management – Thailand
Quality control – Thailand
Personnel management – Thailand
Food industry and trade -- Thailand -- Quality control
Edith Cowan University. Faculty of Business and Law -- Dissertations

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