I recently came across a great quote on data quality by Ken Orr in "The Good, the Bad and the Data Quality" from the Cutter Consortium: "Ultimately, poor data quality is like dirt on the windshield. You may be able to drive for a long time with slowly degrading vision, but at some point, you either have to stop and clear the windshield or risk everything."
"Dirty data" can be a problem for any type of system, but data quality and MDM are inextricably linked, because the net purpose of MDM initiatives is to deliver a single source of truth on one or more master data domains containing accurate, complete, timely and consistent data. Without early, systematic attention to high levels of data quality (plus the right data quality tools and solid data governance to resolve the issues that inevitably come up) your master data hub will simply be a fast, automated way to shoot yourself in the foot.
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