Quality improvement in professional local government services : a longitudinal study
This sustained longitudinal study, carried out in a single local authority, investigates the implementation of a Total Quality Management (TQM) philosophy in professional local government services. At the start of this research, a large majority of what was written about TQM was polemical and based on limited empirical evidence. This thesis seeks to provide a significant and important piece of work, making a considerable contribution to the current state of knowledge in this area. Teams from four professional services within a single local authority participated in this research, providing the main evidence on how the quality management agenda in a local authority can be successfully implemented. To supplement this rich source of data, various other sources and methods of data collection have been used: 1) Interviews were carried out with senior managers from within the authority; 2) Customer focus groups and questionnaires were used; 3) Interviews were carried out with other organisations, all of which were proponents of a TQM philosophy. A number of tools have been developed to assist in gathering data: 1) The CSFs (critical success factors) benchmarking tool; 2) Five Stages of Quality Improvement Model. A Best Practice Quality Improvement Model, arising from an analysis of the literature and the researcher's own experience is proposed and tested. From the results a number of significant conclusions have been drawn relating to: 1) Triggers for change; 2) Resistance of local government professionals to change 3) Critical success factors and barriers to quality improvement in professional local government services; 4) The problems associated with participant observation and other methodological issues used.