About 40% of corporate executives believe that total quality management was the most significant business innovation for their companies during the past three years, according to an international research study. The study was conducted on behalf of Dow Corning Corp. by HI Europe.

Respondents included 691 executives in the Americas, Europe and Asia from a range of industries, including paints and coatings. Perceptions about the importance of total quality management ranked highest in Asia, where 45% of respondents cited it as the most significant business innovation.

“These results reflect clear trends in the external business environment,” says Scott Fuson, global executive director for marketing, sales & customer service at Dow Corning. “It indicates that companies seeking to compete in the global marketplace need to maintain a consistently high standard of product quality around the world. Total quality management, as well as Six Sigma, have provided proven means to accomplish that.”

Process engineering and supply chain management ranked as the second and third most significant business innovations, respectively. Among respondents who cited process engineering, the results were strongest in Europe, where 27% felt it was the most significant business innovation.

Among those who ranked supply chain management as the most significant, respondents in the Americas gave it the highest preference, with 21% identifying it as the most significant, compared to the global average of 15%.

The study revealed that companies intend to move an increasing amount of their raw-materials purchases from traditional channels to online channels. A total of 7% of respondents indicate that their companies currently transact more than half of their specialty chemical purchases online, while 19% predict that in three years they will transact more than half online.