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Total Quality Management Vol. 19, No. 6, June 2008, 627 –642

Total Quality Management and employees’ involvement: A case study of an Australian organisation
Dilrukshi Welikala and Amrik S. SohalÃ
Department of Management, Monash University, Australia

Although much has been said about people being the primary resource in an organisation practising Total Quality Management (TQM), this areahas been neglected by many companies implementing TQM. This paper presents a detailed case study of an Australian organisation that is recognised as a ‘quality’ company and discusses a number of issues relating to employee involvement. The case study finds that employee involvement was a major focus of the company when TQM was first implemented. However, this was lost when the company became moreoutward focused. The lack of ongoing employee involvement at the shop-floor level has been identified as a major reason for the non-sustainability of TQM in the organisation. Keywords: Total Quality Management; employee involvement; Australia; case study

Introduction Total Quality Management (TQM) has been defined by Kanji (1990) as achieving total quality by involving all employees. Kanji and Asher(1993) further defined it as a process of management based on people, emphasising teamwork and quality achievement through people. TQM is differentiated from other management practices because of its emphasis on continuous improvement. TQM today places much emphasis on human relations despite its origins in statistical and engineering backgrounds. Wilkinson (1995) describes it as a ‘soft model’due to qualitative rather than quantitative aspects, such as focusing on total customer satisfaction, involving employees in decision making, working in groups and management of employees being given the highest priority. Any quality system can be copied by benchmarking but each company needs its own people to implement a system (Kanji, 1995). A survey conducted on 250 Turkish organisations foundthat employee involvement and commitment, teamwork, upper management support and quality education and training as the most important factors for a successful implementation of TQM processes (Bayazit, 2003).


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1478-3363 print/1478-3371 online # 2008 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/14783360802024440 http:/ / 628

D. Welikala and A.S. Sohal

Although much has been said about people being the primary resource in an organisation practising TQM, this area has been neglected by companies implementing TQM. There is a need therefore to redesign the HR cycle of selection, performance appraisal, reward and development to reflect quality at each stage of the cycle (Yong & Wilkinson, 2001). The literature onTQM suggests that increasing human resource utilisation (leadership, training, participative management, rewarding/appraisal systems, decision-making process) appears to have not been given as much emphasis as it should have been, resulting in the low success rates of many TQM programs. This paper attempts to fill this gap by presenting a case study that analyses the human element in theimplementation and sustainability of TQM in an Australian manufacturing organisation. Specifically, we address two questions. . How crucial has employee involvement been in the sustainability of TQM in this organisation? . How did it benefit the organisations and the employees? The remainder of this paper is structured as follows. The next section presents a review of the relevant literature. Next, the casestudy methodology is described followed by the detailed results from the case study. Finally, our conclusions are presented.

Literature review Employee involvement and TQM Organisations consist of human beings, and are dependent on them for their existence. Organisational activities become more efficient when individuals differing in birth, and personal characteristics can be directed to...
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