This paper illustrates the problems which arise in collecting appropriate data for a 'cost of quality' exercise and evaluating the economic cost of quality. The practical measurements involve dealing with the attitudes and approaches by management to exactly what constitutes a quality cost. Many cost items can only be estimated and this adds to the complexity of measurement in an organisation. Specifically, the paper reviews the nature of the cost relationship, exploring the concept of marginal cost and marginal benefit in the quality context which should be the basis for firms' decisions about the 'optimal level of quality'.
Proceedings of 'Managing Strategically Through Quality: Profiting from Research and Practice', the 4th International and 7th National Research Conference on Quality management, Sydney, Australia, 06-09 February 2000 / Kevin Foley (ed.)