The present paper is dedicated to Total Quality Management (TQM) as the present-day forefront issue in strategic management. The history of its emergence is discussed, and the evolution of business focus is outlined. TQM emphasizes continuous improvement at all organizational levels, focus on constant learning and advancement.
The benefit of TQM is in its ability to provide a competitive edge for a company in the highly turbulent modern business environment under the conditions of globalization. TQM is also capable of increasing product quality and customer satisfaction due to increased customer focus, which adds exceptional value to it in the modern business settings.
There are many sources of Total Quality Management origin, since the present concept is quite significant for managers worldwide. Total Quality Management (TQM) is a comparatively new concept in the area of strategic management; it emerged in the 1980s mainly as a response of the American companies to the competitive pressure of organizations from Japan (Teeravaraprug, Kitiwanwong, and Tong 102).
However, there is also an opinion that the creation of TQM was the credit of the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) who targeted their effort at ensuring Japanese performance and competitiveness improvement in the postwar years (Powell 16). Ambang claims that TQM emerged worldwide as a response to the requirements of globalization (83). Hence, the origins of the TQM concept, model, and approach are unclear, and there is much less understanding thereof than there is attention for TQM implementation.
The TQM approach rests on the assumption that a company can survive only due to continuous improvement of quality (Rampersad 1). Therefore, the TQM approach to the design of the organizational processes is focused on quality improvement, improvement of customer orientation and satisfaction, reduction of costs and throughput periods (Rampersad 1).
TQM enables any company to acquire effectiveness, flexibility, and competitiveness in operations; it also assists in reduction of waste due to the emphasis on prevention efforts instead of detection and correction of mistakes (Rawlins 19-20).
It is obvious from the overview of the contribution that TQM makes to the functioning of any business entity that it is now the cutting edge of strategic management efforts. The purpose of the present paper is therefore to delineate the advantages offered by TQM in more detail, and to assess its effectiveness in the modern business settings. Opinions of management researchers in the field of TQM application will also be critically assessed with the purpose of identifying the true value of TQM for strategic managerial initiatives.
TQM is considered the modern paradigm of management (Jafar, Mohammad, Fariba, and Mehrdad 19). TQM stands alongside with Supply Chain Management (SCM) as the most important strategic approach for organizations (Talib, Rahman, and Qureshi 26). Judging from these evaluations, one may assume that TQM indeed occupies a central place in the modern strategic management initiatives.
The chief reason for the key importance of TQM is that it attempts to achieve its goals (namely, cost reduction and quality increase) by means of informing all stakeholders about the quality issues (Wienclaw 3). TQM brings the increased use of teamwork and inspires the establishment of creative, innovative climate at any workplace, which is highly valued in the modern business environment as strategic advantages.
It seems reasonable to suppose that the evolution in business paradigms and approaches is not chaotic; there are always innovative solutions that meet the changing needs of market participants, both businesses and customers. Therefore, the shift from industry structure and competitive positioning that was dominant in the strategic management before the 1980s may be justified by the necessity of a new approach (Powell 15).
It became clear in the 1980s that a generation of new business values and competencies came, and the companies should focus on culture, capabilities, administrative skills, know-how, and learning (Powell 15). This change brought about the creation of TQM that could respond to these organizational needs.
Now, the TQM practices include top management commitment to the integration of TQM across all organizational levels; customer focus is the central element of the TQM implementation. Much emphasis is put on training an education as the major paths of increasing the human potential of the organization; continuous improvement and innovation become the benchmarks of TQM integration in the organization.
Finally, the supplier management and employee management practices ensure compliance of all business processes and flawless operation in all aspects and at all departments (Talib, Rahman, and Qureshi 31). There is no doubt that such integrative approach to business operations dooms the company to success, improvement, and self-guided evolution.
One can also assume the importance of TQM judging from the evidence of its overall positive effect on the company’s operation (Koc 213), and its ability to bring about product safety, flexibility in operations, quality improvement of the company’s output, and reduction of the cost of quality (Talib, Rahman, and Mehrdad 31).
The implementation process also contains some positive features, since it involves the comprehensive internal participation of management and employees. Consequently, once the staff of the company adopts the TQM philosophy both at the individual and collective level, the success of TQM integration becomes a much more viable perspective.
Instead of a conclusion, one should note that TQM integration in the organizational setting is currently the number one priority for managers dealing with strategic planning at their workplaces. TQM is a universal model increasing the competitive edge of the company, reducing costs and waste, and increasing product quality.
The TQM approach helps organizations to become more customer-focused, and to gain higher levels of customer satisfaction. Therefore, it is a step towards a new stage in strategic management of any organization, giving a comprehensive, holistic approach to supervision, planning, and organizational change.
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