Total Quality Management Defined
Total Quality Management (TQM) is a young and developing business function. Whether the function is described as a philosophy or management methodology it still must be identified, implemented, and managed. The importance of this function will be outlined in the definition of TQM. As more businesses consider globalization, the impact this has on quality will be described. The differences between traditional management styles and quality-focused management styles will be explored while an example of how TQM applies to an actual organization will also be included. It all begins with a total quality culture.
Total Quality Management
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While different organizations take slightly different approaches to TQM, businesses, public institutions, and private institutions are all implementing quality programs.
The repercussion and scope of these programs are different everywhere. While some companies just make a few superficial changes in norms, controls and processes, some others are able to change their organizations [sic], their concepts of quality, their cultures and philosophies. (Santiago Marco Perles, 2002, p. 59)
Santiago Marco Perles goes on to state that leadership is not only a critical factor in a successful TQM program but that commitment and ethics are required to support that leadership requirement (2002). This concept underscores the need for quality to be an organizational culture and not simply another topic for lip service. Once leadership commits to and exemplifies quality, employee buy-in becomes a result and not a second input. Strategic goals are not achieved until the respective strategies are implemented, supported, and accepted. Likewise, total quality is simply a goal until a culture of quality is implemented, exemplified, and bought into. TQM is the function to achieve this. Its purpose is to facilitate the mechanisms required to achieve continuous process improvement.
Globalization Impacts on Quality
Globalization has moved past a mere possibility for many businesses and has become a necessity for others. As economic integration makes its way around the globe leaving free trade agreements, monetary unions, and economic unions in its wake, many companies are being exposed to impacts globalization has on existing business functions. TQM is just one of many business functions faced with this newer challenge. TQM researchers Crosby, Deming, and Juran (as cited by Anwar & Jabnoun, 2006) have held fast to their beliefs that TQM can be used universally for improving quality and productivity. However, newer research indicates that this universal success is predicated by implementation and environment variables and is neither universal nor automatic. Anwar and Jabnoun (2006) reference researchers Spencer, Chorn, Laza and Wheaton, and Ngowi when they state, “…each organization is influenced by the national environment and TQM's successful implementation, therefore, cannot be automatically guaranteed universally” (p. 272).
New Market, Same Story
Tan and Tan (2002) observe that globalization creates a need for TQM for many businesses that decide to compete in the global market. Many organizations found the global market to be very turbulent and turned to a strategy of quality and flexibility to remain competitive and withstand the turbulence. “In their race to improve the quality of products and services, Total Quality Management (TQM) often seems to be the operation strategy embraced by these firms” (Tan & Tan, 2002, p. 315). While the authors continued to outline reasons for failure in these global organizations, it was not globalization...