Qual Quant (2012) 46:751–776
Quality as an autonomous body of knowledge.
An in-depth survey on Italian higher education
Eva Lo Franco · Salvatore La Rosa
Published online: 7 January 2011
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011
Abstract The need of people skilled on quality topics is strongly increased in Italy, in the
last 10 years, and new professional ﬁgures that are specialized in quality have been recently
recognized by the Italian ofﬁcial classiﬁcation of occupations. However, there seems to be a
lack of empirical studies that analyse education about quality supplied by Italian universities
and business schools. This paper shows the results of an exploratory survey on the education
in quality offered by Italian universities. The research was conducted on a reasoned sample of
Italian universities, selected on the basis of the number of students enrolled and the number
of supplied degree courses, in the academic year 2005/2006. Thanks to the ﬁndings of the
survey it is possible to know what (what subjects related to quality concepts and tools are
taught), where (within which degree programs they are taught), and when (at which degree
level they are taught) Italian higher education is devoted to quality.
Keywords Education in quality in Italy · Quality as a body of knowledge · Exploratory
survey of syllabi content
According to Feigenbaum (1993), a national education system should recognize [… the fact
that quality is fundamentally a body of knowledge—a teachable body of knowledge that goes
far deeper than a set of statistical and motivational courses - …]. Moreover, He states that
[… Although quality has become a fundamental way of managing, it is simply not taught as
a serious, integral area in economics today…].
Evans (1996), and then Weinstein et al. (1998a, 1998b) complained about the lack of
ability of U.S. universities to properly teach in quality, conceived as a culture of management
made of a consistent theory and appropriate methods. They showed the results of surveys in
which quality experts were involved.
E. Lo Franco (
) · S. La Rosa
Dipartimento di Contabilità Nazionale e Analisi dei Processi Sociali, Università di Palermo,
Viale delle Scienze, Ediﬁcio 2, 90128 Palermo, Italy