Introducing total quality management : a change in management ideology
Total Quality Management (TQM) is a phenomena of the eighties. According to Pascale (1990), it has received more publicity than any other management innovation. Its level of popularity seems only to be rivalled by the variety of ways it manifests itself to managers and academics. This thesis is an explanatory case study (Hamel 1993; Yin 1994), based on research into one company's efforts to introduce Total Quality Management to their organisation. The research task was to explain the changes being brought about within the researcher's employing company, Ilford Limited, a photographic materials manufacturer, during six years of TQM adoption. The exploration of different perspectives that would explain the organisational changes being studied were primarily driven by a search for 'useful knowledge' (Louis 1983). This work grew from TQM as a quality improvement programme to the use of an ideological perspective and critique, (Bendix 1956; Gramsci 1971; Seliger 1976; Giddens 1979; Anthony 1977; Habermas 1984; Mumby 1988), which could be seen as contextually relevant, (Pettigrew 1985). Bendix defined management ideology as "those ideas which are espoused by or for those who exercise authority in economic enterprises". It will be argued that TQM renews the ideological appeal which is focused on securing managerial commitment to the aims of the organisation. The need for a renewed appeal in Ilford followed an 'array of cost cutting attacks' such as redundancy and reorganisation, in which managers have become as much the victims as the shop floor workers in the past. The effect of this 'victimisation' on the management community in Ilford was significant and led to an increasing alienation of its managers, (Baxter 1982). This alienation was aggravated by a rising cynicism amongst managers and a loss of value previously inherent in their work as a central life interest. The importance of committed managers to the success of the organisation is highlighted by Anthony, who comments that managers will replace the manual worker as the focus for ideological appeal, because they are now "the determinant of productivity". In Crosby's (1979) view, management commitment is 'Step One' in improving quality management and other writers on quality such as Deming (1986) and Juran (1992), would concur that managers are also the 'determinant of quality'. TQM has therefore, two main roles, an overt role as a rational response to poor competitiveness and a covert role of renewing the legitimacy of a management ideology. Both of these roles are examined in this thesis. TQM as ideology is also a critique of the rational management perspective, in Thompson's (1989) words, "ideology is the thought of the other". The derogatory use of the term to indicate a 'false consciousness' and as a hegemonic project that has infiltrated companies with "New Right" ideas of the "internalisation of market relations", has been developed by some Trades Unions and academics, ( Hall, 1988; GMBU Paper 1991; Du Gay and Salaman 1992; Tuckman 1994). This perspective will be discussed in the context of the case study and the search for useful explanations of TQM induced changes at Ilford Limited.