Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Mechanical, Materials and Mechatronic Engineering - Faculty of Engineering


Thai manufacturing SMEs have played a major role in increasing the Thai GDP and improving international competitiveness. However, there have been many problems inside organisations that have created obstacles to improving performance in both domestic and international markets. Thailand has entered into FTAs with several international trading groups, and has thus been confronted by fierce overseas competitors. However, Thai manufacturing SMEs have lacked investment in modern technology and management techniques. There appears to be a need for Quality Management (QM) that benefits from well-managed Human Factors (HFs). Over the past decade, Total Quality Management (TQM) has been used by many larger Thai enterprises, but there has been a slow up-take in Thai manufacturing SMEs. This PhD work has studied 71 Thai manufacturing SMEs in relation to Human Factors - dependent Quality Management Systems (QMSs). These were in three distinct industry groups; Food and Beverage, Automotive and Auto parts, and Textiles and Garments. In a substantial literature review, 300 references have been consulted. This review showed that management issues were critical in Thai manufacturing SME’s. Quality Management in particular is largely problematical and a better understanding of the role of human factors is urgently required. Human Factors considered are derived from the seven criteria of the Thailand Quality Award (TQA) and were used as the basis of a questionnaire survey. These were:- Strategic Human Resource Planning, Human Resource Development, Employee Empowerment, Performance Management, Communication and Information Management, Leadership, and Continuous Improvement . In analysing the results of the investigation, ten hypotheses were explored. The most important conclusions were:- • The importance of human factors problems in Thai manufacturing SMEs is significant (α = 0.05). • Thai manufacturing SMEs that had implemented TQM had established Organisational Aspects, Performance Management, Leadership and QM training that are different to those that had not implemented TQM. (∝ = 0.05). • The level of TQM adoption is not significantly related to the need to upgrade organisational performance, morale, work satisfaction, and work participation. There are significant relationships between morale and work satisfaction (α = 0.05) and work participation and work satisfaction (α = 0.05). • The extent of human factors problems in Food and Beverage industries is significantly different from other industries (α = 0.10). • Technology-intensive Thai manufacturing SMEs have more highly developed quality management than those that are Labour-intensive (α = 0.01) and also established better performance management systems (α = 0.05). • The outcomes of this research relating to the current status of TQM implementation are useful for Thai manufacturing SMEs considering their problems because their interest in the results of this study was up to 72% (α = 0.05). • Government assistance programmes were considered by many Thai manufacturing SMEs to be unproductive. Less than 70% of Thai manufacturing SMEs had requested help from government to solve their human factors problems (α = 0.05). In addition, there were perceived gaps between their needs and their conscious need for government assistance (α = 0.05). Therefore, a new approach is required to fill this gap by establishing a productive quality management system. A SWOT analysis was used to identify Strengths and Weaknesses and examine Opportunities and Threats to Thai manufacturing SMEs. It concluded that Thai manufacturing SMEs should consider Human Factors as a major issue in establishing an effective Quality Management System. Three models were developed in this study. The first addresses the main five problems; Quality Practices, Human Resources, Management Functions and Operational Tasks, Basic Infrastructure and Organisational Aspects, and Related Problems which influenced the successful implementation of QM. In response to these, the two other models, Government Assistance Strategies and the Development of a Quality Management System specifically addressing the Human Resource in Thai manufacturing SMEs, have been established. It is concluded that government assistance strategies are necessary to assist Thai manufacturing SMEs in five areas; (1) Communication, Information and Education, (2) Provision of Effective SME Development programmes, (3) Improvement of Work Systems, (4) Establishment of Basic Infrastructure, and (5) Development of Quality Management Systems. Finally, it is emphasised that QMS Development needs to be integrated with HR Development.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.