total quality management

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total quality management

[¦tōd·əl ′kwäl·əd·ē ‚man·ij·mənt]
(systems engineering)
A philosophy and set of guiding concepts that provides a comprehensive means of improving total organization performance and quality by examining each process through which work is done in a systematic, integrated, consistent, organization-wide manner. Abbreviated TQM.

total quality management (TQM)

a managerial technique for the pursuit of continuous improvement through strategic, processual and cultural change in organizations. Studies of TQM in the UK suggests that it has a close relationship with Japanese industrial practice and the American 'school of excellence’, and that there is considerable variability in the nature and impact of TQM in the UK.

Broadly, optimists regard TQM as having the potential to resolve some of the problems that managers experienced with ‘quality circles’ (see S Hill, 1991), whilst sceptics point to the disjuncture between the rhetoric and reality of TQM, although they recognize that, in association with the techniques of human resource management it may produce changes in behaviour in line with management objectives. Nevertheless, it is suggested that the rhetoric of‘devolution’ and ‘empowerment’ is often undermined by the simultaneous use of forms of control which involve lateral, peer-group pressure and vertical information systems which buttress centralized control. Moreover, sceptics suggest that particular economic, political and cultural features make a full-blown system of TQM unlikely here (see Sewell and Wilkinson, 1992).

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