An empirical study of cultural values in total quality management : a Chinese culture-specific model
Although total quality management (TQM) has been so widely adopted, its theoretical underpinnings remain relatively unexplored as compared to other management theories. A frequently pointed out research gap is on the cultural side of TQM as a human-oriented management philosophy. TQM is known to begin mainly in Japan and the United States. However, the cultural values of the Japanese and the American people are very different. In Japan, the importance of group harmony is stressed, while the Americans mainly value individual creativity and achievements. Even so, companies in these different cultures have succeeded in implementing TQM and have achieved world class performance. It is reasonable to believe that when TQM, as a culture-free system itself, is being implemented in a particular cultural setting, it must accommodate to a certain extent the local culture. That is to say, Japanese-style TQM is obviously different from American-style TQM and a culture-specific TQM indeed exists. As TQM and ISO 9000 have recently become some of the hottest managerial issues in mainland China and the overseas Chinese regions, this empirical study is concerned with the influence of Chinese cultural values on TQM. In particular, the operations of ISO 9000 certified companies in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan and the cultural values of their Chinese managers were analyzed. Grounded on sociological and psychological theories, quantitative (structural equation modeling) and qualitative (case studies and interviews) research methods were employed to devise a general theoretical model of cultural ii influence on TQM. Furthermore, using Chinese cultural values as a case, the specificities of a Chinese-style TQM were uncovered. The study has not only contributed its modest share towards the theoretical development of TQM but has also paved way for understanding indigenous managerial psychology from a different perspective.