Mehra et al tqm customer 2008

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Implementing total quality management with a focus on enhancing customer satisfaction
Satish Mehra and Sampath Ranganathan
Fogelman College of Business and Economics, The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Purpose – Aims to examine the role of total qualitymanagement (TQM) towards enhancing customer satisfaction. Design/methodology/approach – Using meta-analysis, existing research studies on TQM and customer satisfaction were quantified, summarized, and tested for moderators to clarify TQM impact. Findings – It is found that TQM substantially increases customer satisfaction across diverse industrial and cultural settings. Originality/value – Thisresearch broadens the scope of TQM applicability across varied industrial and cultural settings to achieve higher customer focus, increased customer satisfaction, and stresses the need for more meta-analytic studies on the subject. Keywords Total quality management, Customer satisfaction Paper type Research paper

Total quality management

Received November 2007 Revised May 2008 Accepted May2008

1. Introduction Stressing the importance of product quality, some have suggested that improvement of service and tangible product quality is the single most critical challenge facing US businesses (Zeithaml et al, 1990). Improving quality is no longer considered as the duty of the manufacturing department, it is everybody’s job in the organization. Quality improvement must become a philosophyas well as a way of life. One movement which stressed this view point was total quality management (TQM). TQM is defined as an organization-wide philosophy requiring all employees at every level of an organization to focus his/her efforts to help improve each business activity of the organization (Mehra et al, 2001). Compared to the result-oriented quality programs of the past, TQM is processoriented. Much of the quality literature in 1990s discussed about how Japanese firms used TQM to improve their competitive positions, and how it influenced other businesses followed them (Yavas, 1995). Emphasizing TQM both as a process and a philosophy, previous writers state that:
[. . .] the people in the organization are required to make quality a culture in their daily lives. Furthermore, it isalso important to understand that TQM is a long-term perpetual improvement process requiring significant resources, both financial and human. It is a dynamic process – not a static one. It is a continuous effort with no deadlines or target dates. The process can never be considered complete since there is no goal or destination; hence, TQM becomes a way of life (Mehra et al., 2001, p. 856).

Eventhough the popularity of TQM grew, sceptics started questioning the usefulness of TQM. Many Japanese firms which successfully implemented TQM failed when the

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management Vol. 25 No. 9, 2008 pp. 913-927 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0265-671X DOI 10.1108/02656710810908070

IJQRM 25,9


Japanese economy went on a long recession in 1990s.Dawson (1995) said that TQM is excessively dependent on Japanese culture and cannot be successfully implemented in individualistic cultures like the USA. Other scholars argue that TQM is not adaptable to dynamic situations in the current business environment (Dooley and Flor, 1998). However, Hoover (1995) says that management expects too much, and too soon from adapting TQM. He cautions against theoverselling of TQM as the panacea for all problems that plague a firm. Therefore, instead of claiming that TQM has failed management, one can argue that management has failed TQM. As debate on the impact of TQM continued, research on TQM increased dramatically in 1990s (Filippini, 1997). In spite of the increase in research on TQM, many questions remain unanswered. For instance, various...
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