The impact of a TQM intervention on work attitudes : a longitudinal case study
Total Quality Management (TQM) has been heralded as a new way of managing organizations. While there are widespread endeavours by organizations to implement TQM, a visible lag exists between the adoption of TQM and a systematic evaluation of this phenomenon. The thesis, therefore, addresses a fundamental question in TQM; what is the impact, if any, of a TQM intervention on employee work attitudes? This 'before and after study' examines the impact of a 'soft' TQM intervention on two key elements of TQM: teamwork and continuous improvement. A questionnaire was completed by respondents six months prior to and nine months after the launch of the intervention. The starting point in the evaluation is the development of theoretical models containing hypothesized antecedents of teamwork and continuous improvement which are empirically tested on the data. The intervention is then evaluated on the basis of its direct and indirect effects on the two key elements of TQM. In addition, the impact of the intervention is assessed both at the individual and the organizational level. At the individual level, the intervention was found to have a significant effect on team orientation as well as on a number of dimensions of continuous improvement, including general orientation to quality, improvement as part of the job and intrinsic motivation. However, a significant overall improvement at the organizational level was not evidenced in any of these variables. This raises the possibility that a longer time lag may be required for the individual level effects to develop into an overall organizational improvement. Additional important findings emerged from this evaluation. First, a consistent finding throughout is the importance of supervisory behaviour in affecting employee attitudes. Second, employee assessment of the intervention is a more significant predictor of subsequent changes than employee participation in the intervention per se. Finally, the prior experience and attitudes of individuals have a significant effect on how the intervention is assessed, which subsequently affects changes in attitudes, highlighting the fact that organizational change interventions do not occur in a vacuum.