Quality Management In Kenya's Tea Sector
The tea sub-sector is the leading foreign exchange earner in Kenya and supports the livelihoods of thousands of Kenya who depend on its cultivation, processing and trading. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the quality management in Kenya‟s tea sector. The first objective of the study was to investigate the quality management practices adopted by tea firms in Kenya. The second was to find out how tea firms were performing after ISO certification and the third one was to investigate the relationship between quality management practices and performance of the tea firms. The study was carried out on 17 ISO certified tea firms that operate in the region west of the Kenyan rift valley. The firms included tea factories managed by KTDA and those that are privately owned. A descriptive research design was used. The response rate was 76% and data was collected using questionnaires that were dropped and picked. The quality management practices investigated included leadership focus, customer focus, process focus, employee involvement, continuous improvement, innovation and learning, supplier quality management, statistical quality techniques and quality standards and awards. The performance aspects that were investigated were costs, market share, order processing, product/service quality, profitability and product reliability. The findings were that the quality management practices are practiced at the tea firms and they have a positive influence on the performance of these firms. The firm characteristics of size and age were found to moderate the benefits of quality management.