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Evolution and Principles of Total Quality Management

  • 12 Pages
  • Published On: 8-12-2023

While scholars have had many different definitions of Total Quality Management (TQM), a core definition that emerges across the board is that TQM is a management approach that ensures long-term organizational success through customer satisfaction (Darling, 1992). According to Ulle & Kumar (2014), managers implementing TQM as part of their management strategies aim at improving their products, services, organizational culture, and organizational processes. This essay will explain the concept of total quality management as well as the theories behind its application.

The concept of TQM can be traced back to the 1920s alongside the emergence of various scientific management principles that swept through the United States industry (Jermsittiparsert et al 2019). according to Mannevuo (2018), a major event that led to the emergence of the conception 1920S was the Hawthorne experiment, which showed that employee productivity could be improved through employee participation in organizational decision-making. In 1930, Walter Shewhart coined various statistical approaches that could be used to analyse and control quality (Saleh & Sweis, 2017). In the 1950s, according to Anil & Satish (2019), Philip Crosby’s promotion of zero defects significantly contributed to the idea of quality improvement in many organizations.


The other significant event that contributed to the development of the TQM concept occurred in 1968 when the Japanese named their approach to TQM as ‘companywide quality control’ (Boihanyo & Heyns, 2019). according to Keinan & Karugu (2018), this paved way for the emergence of the term ‘quality management systems’ with Kaoru Ishikawa's conceptualization of the philosophy contributing to Japan’ emergence as a quality leader.

Today, TQM is a term given to a broad approach taken by managers to conduct organizational quality management. Various quality standards such as the Malcolm Bridge National Quality Award and the ISO 900 series are part of the process and principles of TQM. It is an organizational quality procedure, policies and philosophy. A typical example of TQM is Toyota, an automobile company that has been praised for its effective application of TQM. For example, according to Patyal et al (2019), the company, through TQM, has extended its managerial responsibilities beyond just its products and services. In doing so, the company examines how consumers use or apply its products and this has helped it to improve on quality. Furthermore, according to Khan et al (2020), Toyota’s TQM implementation has been praised for focusing on the Kaizen i.e. constant process development to ensure that all the procedures are visible, measurable and repeatable.

Theories of TQM

Managers apply quality management systems to improve profitability through efficient processes. However, according to Chege & Bett (2019), the application of TQM relies on various theories and tools that are applicable in empowering employees and building an atmosphere that focuses so customer feedback to deliver quality products and services. For example, one of the most prominent theories of TQM is Crosby’s theory of TQM, which majorly stipulates that organizations should focus their quality management resources and activities on four absolutes, and that and the process of quality management should be completed within 14 steps (See appendix 1). The four absolutes are:

Define quality as an adherence to requirements

Quality is best ensured through prevention

The performance standard of quality is zero mistakes or defects

The price of non-conformity is the ultimate measure of quality

Based on these four absolutes, Crosby claims that the management has the responsibility of maintaining quality standards in the organization, and that if managers provide leadership in terms of quality management, all the other employees will follow (Saleh & Sweis, 2017). Crosby also supported the idea that quality improvement is a continuous process. Here, according to Boihanyo & Heyns (2019), it should not be that once a standard has been achieved, the process of quality management is stopped. Rather, he argues that the management should develop new quality improvement teams so that the process of quality improvement continues (Saleh & Sweis, 2017).

Crosby’s theory of TQM is largely comparable to Deming’s theory of TQM. For instance, both theorists developed 14 steps to the TQM process (Appendix 2). However, Deming’s main argument is that TQM should be based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) and the Shewart cycle approaches.

Briefly, PDCA is a quality assurance method applied by managers. According to Boihanyo & Heyns (2019), planning involves identifying opportunities and planning for change to take up those opportunities, while ‘Do’ entails implementing the changed in small bits. On the other hand, ‘check’ entails using the data from the implementation stage to analyze the change results and to determine whether the change will make any difference. Lastly, ‘act’ entails making the necessary steps based on the ‘check’ results and implementing the change on a larger scale while constantly monitoring results. The manager is supposed to repeat the cycle in case the change does not work (Saleh & Sweis, 2017).

Also, just as Crosby developed four absolutes of TQM, Deming’s profound systems approach has for main elements of TQM that managers must consider, including systems appreciation, variation knower, knowledge theory and psychology knowledge. Appendix 2 compares Deming’s profound systems approach with Crosby’s four absolutes.

That said, Crosby’s theory is one of the main theories of TQM. Intuitively, there seem to be no disadvantages of always getting better through Crosby’s four absolutes. However, some of the methodologies and ideologies involved in Crosby’s philosophy that can act as a barrier can get in the way of achieving TQM. The following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of continuous improvement:

One of the most significant advantages of Crosby’s theory of TQM is the efficiency that comes with continuous quality improvement. Chege & Bett (2019) argued that businesses that are continuously improving the quality of their products or services can achieve efficiency more easily compared to those that are not on a continuous mission of improvement. To further expound on this, Keinan & Karugu (2018) wrote that as companies implement systems that help to achieve more tasks in less time, they save on labor costs while increasing customer satisfaction through higher quality products or services.

The other advantage of Crosby’s theory of TQM is engagement. According to Keinan & Karugu (2018), Crosby’s theory require that employees must engage in continual improvement and this motivates employees to be more interested and engaged as they innovate and find new ways of improving the quality of output. Compared to employees who simply show up and get the job done, continuous improvement requires interested employees who can go the extra mile to fix problems and satisfy customers (Saleh & Sweis, 2017).

However, one of the most prominent criticisms of Crosby’s theory is that it encourages stifled innovation, whereby if a company has defined how it wants to improve or grow, it might limit itself to a specific type of development while limiting the possibilities of other options (Saleh & Sweis, 2017). This contributes to missing of opportunities and stifles rather than rewarding employee creativity.

The House of Quality

The house of quality is a management tool that helps managers to focus their attention on the things that matter most to customers when designing a product or service (Tao et al, 2019). It translates customer needs into products and services that meet those needs through engineering and design. The house of the quality matrix contains four main parts namely the voice of the customer(left side), the required design features (ceiling), the relationship between the design features i.e. how they interact with each other (on the roof), the competitive section which entails the customer’s perspective, and the lower level or foundation, which entails target values or benchmarks used to determine how the organization will satisfy the customers. The following figure illustrates the house of quality:

The House of Quality

The first step in building the house of quality is identifying, specifying and clarifying customer needs, bearing in mind that whereas produces offer product features, customers are always keen on buying the benefits (Fargnoli et al, 2019). While this may seem a relatively simple notion, a significant challenge in this step is that it may be difficult to anticipate these features.

The next step in building the house of quality is identifying the technical requirements. According to Medini et al (2019), this entails identifying the customer needs and what must be achieved to satisfy those needs. The advantage of this matrix is that it enables managers to match the needs with organizational capacity (Fisher & Fang 2018). Upon identifying all the requirements, a major challenge to managers is to answer the question of what must be done to produce the same product or service design that will fulfil the requirements (Fisher & Fang 2018).

On the planning matrix, managers compare the extent to which the team met the customer requirements compared to the competitors. Therefore, according to Lin (2018), the planning matrix demonstrates the importance of each requirement that the team and its competitors are aiming to achieve. The challenge here is to identify and compare the team’s performance vis-à-vis the competitor’s performance.

The next matrix, the interrelationship matrix, seeks to establish the relationship between the customers’ product needs and the performance measures established to improve the product (Ireland & Liu, 2018). Here, according to Amparado & Hinoguin (2020), managers seek customer’s opinion regarding what they need from a specific product and these views are placed on the left side of the interrelationship matrix. According to Lin (2018), the main challenge or task to managers in this matrix is to weigh the organization’s strengths and weaknesses against the customer need to identify the aspects that need to be changed.

The next matrix is the technical correlation matrix, which is useful in developing the relationship between the customer requirements and product requirements. This will then facilitate the identification of where the units must work together to prevent design conflict (Tao et al, 2019). symbols are used to represent how each requirement impacts each other – often organized as string positive, positive, negative and strong negative (Fargnoli et al, 2019).

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The last matrix, technical properties, use specific items to record all the properties elated to technical requirements. According to Medini et al (2019), this matrix also provides information on the technical performance achieved by competitor’s products as well as the difficulties encountered in developing each technical requirement. The matrix’s final output is a set of target values for each requirement that the new design must meet. However, a significant challenge for managers in this matrix is that in some cases, the organization might not create the optimum design due to technological or cost constraints.


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Appendix 1: Crosby’s and Deming’s theories of TQM
Crosby’s and Deming’s theories of TQM Crosby’s and Deming’s theories of TQM Crosby’s and Deming’s theories of TQM
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