It may not be universally accepted, but ISO 9000 does a pretty good job defining and explaining quality. The definition it uses is, “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills a need or expectation that is stated, general implied or obligatory” (ISO, 2009). The author explains this definition using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; meaning its in response to the idea that man is constantly a needing/wanting being. This falls right in line with my (currently unpublished) research on three dimensional organizations. My research states that each organization must balance quality assurance, stakeholder experience, and efficiency. External to each of these three dimensions are the needs and expectations of various environmental forces (economics, psychology, morality, etc). While we may not all agree upon the wording applied in a definition this lack of specific agreement is because each entity with a need/want for a specific thing of quality will express that need/want differently thus requiring a modifications to the definition. The ISO standard is an excellent reference for this subject because it begins by discussing the origins of the definition based upon the philosophical understand of an individual or an organization’s need.
To capture quality assurance requirements within an organization one must understand not just the stakeholder’s stated positions of needs/wants, but also the principles behind those decisions. The difference between the two is articulately discussed in Fisher and Ury’s classic negotiation text, Getting to Yes.