Quality Management TQM

  • What is total quality management

TQM refers to the broad set of management and control processes designed to focus an entire organization and all of its employees on providing products or services that do the best possible job of satisfying the customer (Talha, 2004). According to Sasha and Kiser. (1993) this involves the continuous improvement of organizational processes, resulting in high quality products and services.

  • History

Total Quality Management is a process that has been thoroughly researched by many quality gurus. There are three main pioneers of the total quality management movement (Aghazadeh, 2002). And they are discussed below.


Deming applied statistical sampling techniques by this looked to achieve higher quality and productivity in manufacturing and management. He focused mainly on competition through continuous improvement and elimination of waste, therefore producing higher quality products at a lower cost (Morehouse and Capezio, 1993).


Juran’s came up with the Juran trilogy, the tripol concept, and company wide quality management. The Juran trilogy is used to explain the interrelationship of three processes used to manage quality; quality planning, quality control and quality improvement (Petersen, 1999).


Crosby focuses on the cultural and behavioral aspects of the quality management process rather than statistical tools. He created the zero defect movement focusing on prevention and the theory that: “… it must be cheaper to do things the right the first time” (Aghazadeh, 2002).

  • Total quality management an sustainable competitive advantage

Wruck and Jensen. (1994, 1998) observes that value and uniqueness are the characteristics that allow the resources and capacities to generate competitive advantage. They go on to suggest that the valuable character of TQM can be understood from two perspectives. One is external, since the increased contact with customers provides better information about the market or greater brand loyalty, which in turn leads to a rise in sales and margins. The other is internal, due to improvement in productivity brought about by encouraging an emphasis on problem resolution, waste reduction or the greater motivation and commitment of employees derived from changes in the components of the organizational rules of the game. The benefits derived from TQM depend on the circumstances in which it is introduction was carried out, on the culture of the organization or on the organizational context. Because of this the final configuration of TQM in each company will be unique in each company (Escrig-Tena, 2004). On this Escrig-Tena. (2004) observes that the fulfillment of this two conditions -value and uniqueness- leads to the consideration of TQM as an important factor for attainment of a competitive advantage.

  • Components of TQM

There is little agreement on what constitutes TQM, although it is necessary to implement every component in order to succeed (Tari, 2005). Jabnoun. (2002) explains that the elements of TQM include supplier relationships, benchmarking, however, the most cited components of TQM are continuous improvement, customer satisfaction, empowerment, and top management responsibility

  • Continuous improvement

Total quality management involves continuous and measurable improvement at all levels of the organization, ranging from company performance to individual employee performance, such that continuous improvement, forever, becomes an essential ingredient of success (Choppin, 1995).

Bessant et al. (1994) defined continuous improvement as a company wide process focused on continuous incremental innovation sustained over a long period of time. Being essential for meeting customers’ varying needs continuous improvement is considered an integral part of TQM (Deming, 1986). The intensity of global competition has led to even greater interest for continuously improving products, services and processes. There are many tools to achieve continuous improvement, including statistical methods and bench marking, but its main prerequisite are a supporting culture, and a supportive leadership (Jabnoun, 2002). Collin. (1994) observes that TQM stresses the importance of culture in designing, producing and improving products and services that satisfy customers. Yeh. (2003) believes that a successful TQM implementation requires cultural changes, and a “quality culture” is an ultimate goal.

Escrig-Tena. (2004) observes that continuous improvement must be part of the management of all the firm’s processes, activities and operations. He continuous to suggest that in order to be able to improve a firm should employ the following tools: extensive gathering of information through bench marking and self-assessment, systems analysis and feedback so as to be able to isolate problems and direct employees towards those that have bee detected. Dimitriades. (2000) adds that the concept of teams and teamwork is of central importance to quality management, teams can be established responsible for continuous quality improvement.

  • Customer satisfaction

The concept of customers includes investors, employees, stakeholders, suppliers, the community and every interpersonal relationship (Choppin, (1995).

Customer satisfaction is the objective of TQM. Deming considers customers to be the most important part of the production line (Scherkenbach, 1986). Customers are indeed the purpose of product development and improvement. Producing a high quality product or service that does not meet customers” needs and expectations will be a total waste for the organization. Customer satisfaction is largely dependent on continuous improvement and empowerment. Continuous improvement is required in order to satisfy customers’ varying needs, while empowerment is necessary for bringing the decisions closer to the customers (Jabnoun, 2002). Tari. (2005) suggests that methods like channels for processing customer complaints, identifying customer needs (surveys, market investigation, reports from vendor), customer satisfaction survey, and after sale service can be used to attain and improve customer satisfaction.

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Customers are internal and external to the organization (Juran, 1989). External customer satisfaction is achieved through meeting or exceeding customer expectations, which in turn, require the presence of a supportive culture (Zeitz et al, 1997). Internal customer satisfaction can be achieved through teamwork and satisfying employees’ expectations and through empowering them (Parker and Price, 1994).

  • Empowerment

Empowerment has been described as a means to enable employees to make decisions (Bowen and Lawler, 1992). Empowerment is one of the main constructs of TQM. Empowerment is essential for internal customer satisfaction. Studies on empowerment have shown that it is positively associated with employees’ satisfaction.

However, Knights and McCabe, (2002) argue that while TQM purports to transform the culture of the workplace attempting to construct a “new” self managed worker it takes away individual autonomy and reconstructs worker initiative in a manner which allows management determination.

Empowerment is also essential to pursue external customer satisfaction (Sitkin et al., 1994), for external customers cannot be satisfied, if those who serve them have no authority to respond to their needs. Empowerment should be rooted in the culture and structure of the organization (Jabnoun, 2002).

The tools that organizations that can use to ensure empowerment in the organization are information communication systems (bottom-up, top-down, horizontal communication among all staff work information, poster, slogan and personal letters), suggestion systems, work teams and recognition and rewards (Tari, 2005). Yeh, (2003) also believes that one of the means to empower employees is through training since it gives them skills to conduct t asks in the way TQM suggests.

Executives view empowerment as an essential factor of total quality management. The ownership p, independence, autonomy and job satisfaction that comes with empowerment leads to an increase in the contributions provided by employees. They feel as if the doors of communication are open and they are free to share their ideas without any authoritative management and obstacles (Aghazadeh, 2002).

  • Top Management Responsibility

The role of top management is critical for quality success. McKinsey and Company (1989) reported that 95 per cent of the CEOs of the top 500 European corporations considered top management attention as the key requirement for success in TQM (Jabnoun, 2002). Lascelles and Dale. (1990) also reported that CEOs are the primary internal change agents for quality improvement, as they are those who shape organizational values and establish managerial structure and actually bring about change.

Dayton. (2003) believes that if you want your quality initiatives to work there is only one answer – management must step to the plate. He suggests that senior management must visibly commit to the program and then continue to walk the talk. TQM is a strategic business initiative and must be recognized as one in order to be successful. It is further the belief of this researcher that TQM died because senior management allowed it to wither on the vine. Leadership of total quality management stems from the top of the organization and enlists individual and team commitment throughout (Choppin, 1995).

Deming. (1986) argues that management is responsible for more than 90 per cent of quality problems. In order to be able to deliver the desired quality, top management should provide the necessary input to the people that are directly involved in producing products and providing services. This input includes the necessary resources, a fitting culture and structure, fair reward system and the necessary skills that can be acquired through training (Jabnoun, 2002)

TQM and its major components of continuous improvement, customer satisfaction and empowerment are highly dependent on cultural values. The main cultural values that underline them include: humbleness, innovation and challenge, openness, respect for people, integrity, empathy, trust and co-operation (Jabnoun, 2002).

  • Success Factors

There are programs that are more influential in the implementation of TQM in the organization and they are job characteristics, organizational structure, supportive environment and mediation factors (Yeh, 2003).

  • Job characteristics

Previous studies found that work motivation, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment are associated with extra-role performance behavior, organizational citizenship behaviors, or active effort (Walsh and Tseng, 1998). Waldman. (1994) more specifically indicated that employees’ engagement in continuous improvement activities or teamwork were one kind of extra work. Therefore enriched job characteristics are positively associated with employees’ TQM practices not only because of their consistency with TQM principles, but also through mechanism of employee empowerment. Feedback, autonomy, participation and skill variety are consistent with quality principles and are considered to be able to empower employees and lead to a positive psychological outcome, such as high level of job involvement, job satisfaction and motivation. The more enriched job characteristics found in the job, the more likely the employees will engage in TQM practices therefore enriched job characteristics are associated with TQM practices (Yeh, 2003).

  • Organizational structure

According to Schneider et al. (1996), the organizational characteristics associated with TQM practices can be discussed from two dimensions: organizational structure; and social environment. A flat organizational structure with less rigid boundaries among divisions is generally preferred in creating a quality culture. A low management control organization yields more power to employees leading them to have more control of their jobs and responsibilities for their tasks, which is also consistent with TQM principles. Less management control also increases the flexibility to adapt to a changing environment (Yeh, 2003). Shea and Howell. (1998) suggest standardized and formalized organizational structures may increase employees’ TQM practices. Standard rules, procedures and written documentation lead to employees’ skill mastery; these are also consistent with TQM principles (Yeh, 2003).

  • Supportive environment
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A supportive work environment is suspected to be able to increase employees’ positive organizational behavior through the mechanism of employee empowerment (Shneider et al, 1996), in this case, job satisfaction, job involvement or other psychological outcome (Yeh, 2003). Yeh. (2003) suggests that in a TQM context, a supportive social environment is likely to encourage employees’ TQM practices. He observes that this is also consistent with TQM principles, as it suggests: one of the main principles of TQM is to expel fear of the organization and provide a trustful environment to encourage employees to take responsibility for their jobs, and learn from their mistakes.

  • Mediation factors

Many researchers suggest internal work motivation, job satisfaction, job involvement and organizational commitment as the mechanisms which lead employees to engage in efforts toward organizational improvement (Waldman, 1994). Shea and Howell. (1998) further proposed “self-efficacy” as a cognitive process which impacts on behavioral aspects of TQM.

Yeh. (2003) proposes two mediating factors as the elements of employee empowerment: Self-efficacy and psychological outcome.

Self-efficacy in this case refers to the degree of employees’ beliefs in their capability to carry out TQM practices, especially with TQM skills provided by the organization. Self-efficacy can be enhanced through organizational variables such as organizational structure, job design, vicarious learning and modeling (by the participation in TQM projects), as well as training Self-efficacy is able to moderate the effect of individuals’ experiences in TQM. Psychological outcome here refers to the psychological state as a result of work environment. Psychological outcome is a mediating factor, mediating the effect of job and organizational characteristics in TQM practices (Yeh, 2006).

  • Problem areas of TQM

2.3.1 Hard to change organizational culture

Smith. (1990) notes that TQM requires wholesale organizational improvement towards a stated goal; in other words culture change. From this text also we can see other writers advocating for culture change for TQM to work. Johnson and Gill. (1993) argue that there is some firm evidence that creating changes in the organizational culture is difficult, contending that the recent spate of anecdotal material claiming the efficacy of cultural change in improving organizational effectiveness is short on evidence. Fingleton. (1995) says that culture is a crucial factor for the success of TQM; arguing that Deming was only able to achieve success in Japan because the values and culture of the Japanese were compatible with quality initiatives.

In the final analysis, nobody knows exactly what culture change is and how best to approach cultural transformation, which is argued to be the most essential ingredient if TQM is to succeed. Where the “what” and “how” of culture change is addressed in the literature, the practicing manager finds it immensely difficult to reconcile the world of the author and the reality of the workplace, particularly in relation to “how” to achieve a change in employee mindset, behavior and attitudes (Nwabueze, 2001).

2.3.2 Employee work-belief

Most researchers have cited the reason for TQM’s failure to be implementational (Nwabueze, 2001). However, most of the writing has concentrated on problems at the organizational level. For example a major problem in implementing TQM is getting everyone in the organization to move in the same direction (Biberman, 1995). Other often cited problem include: lack of goals, insufficient knowledge, poor planning, lack of management commitment, lack of proper training, failure to use the right framework, lack of resources, lack of effective measurement, the incompatibility of attitudes of top management and workers (Nwabueze, 2001).

Reger et al. (1994) suggest that each person’s response to an idea involves cognitive process of interpretation, attribution and inference. This means that managers who propose the idea for quality improvement are convinced that it works and assume that employees will think so too (Reger et al., 1994). In reality this is not the case, as workers are more likely to draw their own inferences (Nwabueze, 2001). For example employees working in different parts of the same organization have different work – related beliefs. They exhibit different perceptions, make different attributions and use different cognitive orientations (Sproull and Hofmeister, 1986).

  • Lack of empirical research

Dean and Bowen. (1994) claim that TQM as a ubiquitous organizational phenomenon has been given little research attention. The bulk of the TQM literature is based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence (Baker and Starbird, 1992), with very little empirical testing (Sitkin et al., 1994). Black. (1993) argues that TQM risks losing credibility as a management philosophy for improving organizational effectiveness.

There are three possible reasons for the lack of attention given to empirical investigation of TQM experiences. First, TQM is a relatively recent phenomenon outside Japan. Second its origin lies mainly outside the academic world (Spencer, 1994). The third reason is highlighted by Dean and Bowen (1994): “TQ researchers … will be much more productive if there is a theoretical base upon which they can draw … TQ because of its interdisciplinary nature means that it often transcends the boundaries of existing theories. Thus, it is unlikely that the existing theories will be sufficiently broad based to support research on TQ”.

  • Lack of empirical sound TQ implementation models
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While there is a general consensus regarding the importance of issues related to leadership and employee involvement for effective TQM implementation there are many differences in opinion about the other relevant components and the appropriate emphasis among the components (Thiagaragan et al., 2001). As a consequence, organizations wanting to implement TQM are not only overwhelmed by the numerous precepts, principals, models, and prescriptions but also are often left confused as to where to begin (Thiagaragan et al., 2001). This problem is described as “total quality paralysis” by authors such as Smith. (1986).

Unsuccessful TQM implementation attempts are not uncommon (Cole, 1993). To quote Atkinson. (1990), “the road to total quality management is littered with failures”. Sitkin et al. (1994) argue that the lack of clear guidelines and implementation methods may have contributed to a number of failed implementation attempts.

The development of a model to explain effective TQM implementation by organizing, synthesizing and empirically validating the various key quality factors should help to serve the needs of practitioners

  • Lack of empirical research outside the developed economies

Hurd. (1992), outlines how the growing importance of quality has spread to many enterprises out the developed world, especially nations in the South East Asian region. It is appropriate, therefore, that studies in TQM implementation be conducted for the benefits of managers in these countries, where the need is confounded by a lack of information relating to TQM. In addition, given the acknowledged limitations of the findings of some of the earlier studies in their applicability across national boundaries, the outcome of such systematic studies will create a new critical mass of TQM thinking under different cultural environments (Thiagaragan et al., 2001).


From the text we can see that TQM is an organization phenomenon aimed at providing products and services to satisfy the customer. The cornerstone of TQM is the customer that is it is introduced in organizations to improve customer satisfaction which may in turn mean more sales for the organization. When an organization adapts and is able to gain a competitive advantage. When implementing TQM there are several things that a manager should consider.

One of them is the components of TQM even though researchers differ on what the components of TQM are the main ones are Continuous Improvement (CI). CI does not only mean the improvement of the product or service but in all levels of organization. Another component is customer satisfaction which is the objective of TQM. Continuous improvement is important so as to satisfy customer varying needs. Empowerment is another component which means to enable employees to make their own decisions. Management responsibility is where the manager upon implementation of the TQM program he gets involved so as to make sure that the program works.

There are several success factors to consider while implementing TQM. Job characteristics like work motivation, job satisfaction and organizational behavior which are associated with employee total quality management practices. A manager should also be familiar with the organizational structure so as to know to introduce TQM, implement it and see that it works. A supportive environment is another success factor. A trustful environment encourages employees to take responsibility for their jobs. We learn from the text that a supportive social environment is likely to encourage employee TQM practices. And lastly there is mediation factor, there are two mediating factors: Self-efficacy which refers to the degree of employees’ beliefs in their capability to carry out TQM practices and Psychological Outcome which refers to the psychological state as a result of work environment.

Even though TQM is a widely known organizational phenomenon it has been known not work upon implementation. I have learned from the study that even though TQM relies on cultural changed in organizations for it to work; it is difficult to change an organizations culture. TQM also brings out empowerment to employees. This may bring differentiation among the employees as different employees from different parts of the organization have different work-related beliefs. The other problem with TQM is that there is lack of empirical study on TQM, the literature that is there is based on experience and anecdotal evidence. There is also no sound implementation model for TQM that is why it might not work on some organizations. There is lack of empirical research outside the developed countries. This is a problem as there is growing demand for quality around the globe. Research in TQM would important for developing countries as they may be able to implement TQM in their organizations which will act as a stepping stone to competitive advantage.

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