Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Total Quality Management: From Industry to Education

Theories and practices in Educational Management as a field of study were derived from management principles originally applied in the industry (Sergiovanni and Starratt, 2007; Bush, 2003; Oliva and Paulas, 1999; Hoy and Miskel, 1991). This is because educational administration, as a field of scholarly endeavor, developed later than related fields, such as business administration and public administration (Kimbrough and Nunnery, 1976). These theories and principles were carefully modified in order to fit in the educational setting. Hence, in order to fully understand the underlying concepts in a particular theory and practice in education administration, it is important to explore its origin and impacts in the industry – where it came from.

As TQM derived its language, concepts, and methodology from industry (Sallis, 2002), it is therefore important to investigate how TQM started in the industry. This way, we will gain better understanding on how it permeated in the educational setting. Moreover, the distinction between product-oriented industries and service-oriented educational institutions can be established when there is thorough understanding on how TQM gained popularity in the industry and then in education.

TQM had its first success in Japan during the post-World War II rehabilitation. It was introduced by an American statistician, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, who first visited Japan in the late 1940s to work in their post-war census (Sallis, 2002). The idea was embraced by the Japanese where they started applying it in the manufacturing of goods and then followed by service industries. From then on, Japanese industries became popular icons in the world when it comes to product quality. Few of the companies which applied Deming’s management principle include Ford Motor Company, Phillips Semiconductor, SGL Carbon, Motorola and Toyota Motor Company (Gilbert, 1992 as cited by Hashmi, 2000–2009). Dr. W. Edwards Deming is now celebrated in Japan as the “American father of Japanese industry” wherein the Deming Prize, established in 1950s, became Japan’s most prestigious industrial award (Schomoker and Wilson, 1993). It was only after Japan achieved tremendous success in the world industry that America realized that they also have to focus on quality as Japan started to dominate the world market.

However, the movement of total quality in education is of more recent origin as there were only few references in the literature before the late 1980s (Sallis, 2002). Sallis (2002) clearly narrated the beginning of TQM in education in the USA and the UK. He divulged, “Much of the pioneering work on TQM was carried out in the USA and by further education colleges in the UK. The US initiatives developed somewhat before those in Britain, but in both countries the surge of interest occurred from 1990 onwards.”

TQM was first applied in the higher education level but it then gained prominence in the entire levels of education specifically in the basic education level where schools, especially in the USA, became after of quality awards in education. However, even if TQM is proven to be applicable in education institutions, extra cautions must still be observed when applying concepts and practices from industry to education. In relation to this, Law and Glover (200) inscribe, ”While we need to recognize that a number of ‘commercial’ concepts may be applicable to educational scenarios as it becomes market-driven, it is clear that there is no ready-made or universally applicable theories we can simply pull off from the shelves.”

Defining TQM in Education

Plenty of definitions of TQM which exist in literatures define TQM as it is applied in business and industry. Although some of them are applicable in the field of education, others still need to be modified in order to fit into the needs of the education sector. In an attempt to define TQM in the educational context, Murgatroyd and Morgan (1993) defined TQM as a systematic management of an organization’s customer-supplier relationships in such a way as to ensure sustainable, steep-slope improvement in quality performance.

Ross (1994), Besterfield et al. (1995), Murgatroyd and Morgan (1993) and Mukopadhyay (2005) argue that TQM has to be viewed in a holistic manner. Mokupadhyay (2005) contends that a partisan or fragmented way of looking at quality in any organization is neither desirable, nor feasible, for an action in one area sets out a chain of reactions in several other areas of management of an educational institution. TQM provides an important opportunity to look at quality in a holistic fashion and also provides instrumentalities for managing quality.

Convinced that TQM is not an agenda of only the top management as opposed to other hierarchical management principles, Sallis (2002) inscribed, “The total in TQM dictates that everything and everybody in the organization is involved in the enterprise of continuous improvement. The management in TQM likewise means everyone, because everyone in the institution, whatever their status, position or role, is the manager of their own responsibilities.”
Underlying Concepts of TQM

Understanding the origin and impact of TQM in the industry and its transmission in education is not enough to fully comprehend what TQM really is all about. It has to be, first, understood that TQM is a management principle composed of many underlying concepts. Barry (1991), as cited by Binkley (1994), notes that TQM is a natural evolution of all the effective management techniques that are currently being applied by excellent organization.

Murgatroyd and Morgan (1993) argue that “the key word in TQM is management. Quality performance does not occur by happenchance or accident, it occurs because it is designed into the way the organization works; it permeates all aspects of the organization.”  Their statement has been supported by Sadgrove (1995) who believes that TQM is really just another word for good management.

Central to every TQM-driven organization is its focus on continuous improvement ( Rao et al., 1996; Schomoker & Wilson, 1993; Ross, 1994; Besterfield et al., 1995).  Ross (1994) contends that TQM is the integration of all functions and processes within an organization to achieve continuous improvement of the quality of goods and services. Besterfield et al. (1995) put the definition of TQM this way: “TQM is defined as both philosophy and a set of guiding principles that represent a foundation of a continuously improving organization. It is the application of quantitative methods and human resources to improve all the processes within an organization and exceed customer needs now and in the future.”

            Customer-satisfaction is a focus of every endeavor in a TQM organization (Sadgrove, 1995; Sashkin, 1993). Sadgrove (1995) points out that TQM means satisfying the customers first time, every time.

Besterfield, D. et al. (1995). Total quality management. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Binkley, B. (1994). Total quality management and its impact on higher education with emphasis on academic libraries. Unpublished master’s thesis, Tennessee State University, Tennessee

Murgatroyd, S. & Morgan, C. (1993). Total quality management and the school. Buckingham: Open University Press

Mokupadhyay, M. (2005). Total quality management in education. New Delhi: Sage Publications

Sadgrove, K. (1995). Making TQM work. London: Kogan Page Ltd.

Sallis, E. (2002). Total quality management in education. London: Kogan Page Ltd.

Schomoker, M. & Wilson, R. (1993). Total quality education: Profiles of schools that demonstrate the power of Deming’s management principles. Bloomington: Phi Delta Kappa