2. For a new definition of Quality

by Ignazio Caloggero

The Concept of Quality

The origin of wisdom is the definition of terms

 The terms "Quality" and "Cultural Heritage" share the same destiny, much used, sometimes abused, and the meaning assigned to them is the same that Benedetto Croce gave to the concept of art: is what everyone knows what it is.  Here, in the absence of a formal definition, these concepts are identified in everything that our society recognizes as such.

But if it is wrong not to be able to recognize Cultural Heritage from a formal point of view, it is even more wrong not to be able to recognize what quality is because in order to manage it it is necessary to implement a control and measurement system of the quality itself, then identify for each sector of interest of the quality factors, transform them into measurable indicators.

ISO 9000: 2005 (Fundamentals and vocabulary) provides the following definition:


Quality:  Ability of a set of characteristics inherent in a product, system, or process to comply with the requirements of customers and other interested parties.

The definition has been revised with the new revision of UNI EN ISO 9000:2015 

Quality:  Degree to which a set of features intrinsic of a object satisfies i requirements 


This last definition comes closest to the definition I have been using since 2013:  

Quality:  Ability of a set of characteristics inherent to an entity to confirm the expectations referable to it by all interested parties

There is a need to identify for each sector the basic elements to which the concept of quality must be applied:

·       the entity to which the quality is to be applied. Specific product, system, service, activity, organization or any combination of the above (in our case we could also speak of accommodation facilities, territory, cultural property, monument, etc;)

·       interested parties (those who express expectations or needs) according to the entity. That depending on the case can be called customer, user, tourist, user of the cultural good or service, citizen or even society itself;

 Let's see, very briefly, some examples of entities and interested parties:

Food and wine product
In this case, the entity to which the concept of quality must be applied is the edible product itself, one of the interested parties is certainly the consumer who will have a series of expectations related to the product itself, among these certainly organoleptic qualities (taste, flavor, perfume, view ) and health and hygiene safety (absence of health risks);

Accommodation facility (hotel)

In this case, the entity to which the concept of quality must be applied is essentially the organizational structure that manages the hotel, responsible for a series of factors that will affect the overall quality perceived by the interested parties (one of these is obviously the guest of the Inn). Anyone who has been a guest of a hotel knows what the expectations are (accessibility, communication, comfort, hospitality, safety, reliability, cleanliness, safety, courtesy, staff competence, etc.) We will talk about these aspects in the part relating to the factors and quality indicators.  

Cultural Heritage (Museum)

In this case, the entity to which it must be applied is essentially the organizational structure that manages the museum, but also the set of works that are exhibited. One of the interested parties is certainly the visitor and the expectations also in this case concern a large number of factors: correct information on the museum and the works on display, accessibility (parking, adequate opening hours, absence of architectural barriers, cost of the entrance ticket not excessive), courtesy and competence of the staff, support services (toilets, refreshment points, etc.)  

Cultural Heritage (territory)

Even a territory such as a historic center, a vast territorial area that contains tangible cultural assets (historical, artistic, naturalistic, archaeological, museum, etc.) and intangible assets (folklore, food and wine heritage, typical crafts, etc.)  it can be considered a complex entity to which the concept of quality can be applied (consider for example the Unesco site “The late Baroque cities of the Val di Noto” which includes 8 municipalities over a very large area of ​​south-eastern Sicily.   

In this case, the sub-entities to which the concept of quality is applied are more than one: the monuments and organizations that manage them, the state and non-state bodies that have direct control over it, the infrastructures, the accommodation facilities present in the territory, etc.

As for the interested parties, we can think of the tourist, or in any case of anyone who wishes to visit the territory in question, but in reality the expectations also come from the same population that lives in the territories. In the case of a Unesco site, one of the interested parties is certainly Unesco itself which, having included the site on the World Heritage List, has very specific expectations.  

Speaking of stakeholders, we must not forget that we often refer to cultural heritage  and therefore to the cultural heritage that belongs to the whole country; in reality, an in-depth analysis should make us understand that the subjects interested in the cultural heritage are not only us but also posterity. I have already had the opportunity to write about it that we can talk about re-evaluating our cultural heritage, we can affirm our right to take advantage of the immense cultural heritage that surrounds us, but this should never, ever make us forget the duty to keep it intact for posterity. We must, respecting the present, be on the side of the future, as we will be what he finds.

We reinforce the definition just given by stating that quality also means the ability to achieve the established objectives (effectiveness), but in doing this we must not forget to do it in the best possible way; in fact, when the human, material and financial resources available are scarce, it is of vital importance to optimize what is available (efficiency).


Tourism Quality and Cultural Heritage

For a new definition of Quality

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