Is total quality management really unique?

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The main proposition of this paper is that the Principles commonly accepted as defining total quality management (TQM) are not unique to TQM but are part of many other organizational change initiatives or generally accepted 'good' management practice. The paper traces the development of TQM and the concept of management 'fads' and describes the development and definition of a number of approaches: world class manufacturing, guru theory, continuous improvement (CI), business process re-engineering (BPR) and human resource management. These approaches are then compared with each other and with the principles and practices a TQM. It is concluded that 'customer focus' is a key element of all approaches, as is 'commitment' and 'involvement' of an employees, although this is interpreted in various ways. TQM is not as unique as some of its proponent's claim, with its emphasis on processes shared with BPR, and CI one of its basic principles, although its development from the mathematical foundation of quality control does make it unusual. At best, TQM. may be viewed as an alternative focus on a common set of management principles, derived from a statistical base, and at worst simply another management fad. Further work if needed to test the ideas of this paper in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-570
Number of pages18
JournalTotal Quality Management (Print)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1996


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