Structure-Infrastructure Alignment: The Relationship Between TQM Orientation and the Adoption of Supplier-Facing Electronic Commerce Among Manufacturers

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Total Quality Management (TQM) is widely adopted in industry and well studied in academe. It includes a philosophy and set of practices for supply management. However, these elements evolved before widespread adoption of the Internet, which transforms the supply management landscape by presenting various tools for organizations to select and manage suppliers. Therefore an important research undertaking today is to understand how the Internet has affected manufacturers that embrace TQM. As part of this undertaking, we examine the relationship between TQM orientation and the adoption of eight supplier-facing e-commerce applications. We propose that certain supplier-facing e-commerce applications enhance competition among suppliers, while others enhance supplier relationships. Drawing upon strategic contingency theory, we hypothesize that TQM orientation is negatively associated with the adoption of the first category of application and is positively associated with the adoption of the second category. Logistic regression was used to test hypotheses using survey data collected from manufacturers located in six countries and three industries. The results show that organizations which have heavily embraced TQM do use e-commerce somewhat differently from other organizations. However, the results also point out potentially troubling inconsistencies between e-commerce adoption and other elements of strategy.