Why Organizations Fail to Successfully Implement Tqm?

Subject: Organizational Management
Pages: 10
Words: 3118
Reading time:
11 min
Study level: Master

Research Objectives

The research intends to achieve the following objectives:

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  • Understanding the scenario of TQM implementation
  • Identifying the need for successful implementation of TQM carefully
  • To observe the factors of failure for TQM?
  • To identify the organizational inhibitors of Successful TQM implementation

Research Goal

The Goal of the research is to highlight the reasons of failure for TQM implementation and to further suggest recommendation to the body of knowledge on what to avoid for the TQM implantation failures.

Research statement

The proposed research tries to identify ‘the reasons why organizations fail to successfully implement TQM’.

Significance of the research

Quality implementation has become a norm for every organization in today’s competitive world. However, many companies do not experience the successful implementation of the quality process. For many other organizations Total quality implementation is a burden and results a costliest affair so they try to avoid the Quality across the organization. Such partial quality implementation may lead to imbalances in the quality perceptions between the departments where interdependency is necessary. An input that comes from a unit that has no quality control can always present a challenge the other unit which produces the final out put even after having quality measures for itself. Even after perceiving the importance of Total Quality Management organizations are unable to implement or maintain it. So the current research tries to identify the reasons behind the non successful implementation of TQM in Organizations.

Total quality management (TQM) can be termed as an integrated organizational effort which is aimed to improve quality at each and every level of organization. TQM can also be understood as the process execution to meet quality expectations as defined by company policies and the market demands.

TQM is more than a product or service assurance. It can spread across the organization and can be proved through employee management, process management and customer service management.

There are many studies that observed the drivers for the effective implementation of TQM in organizations.

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Tamimi and Sebastinelli (1998) as cited in Minjoon Jun, DaeSoo Kim, George A. Zsidisin have identified some TQM implementation problems and gave some recommendations to overcome such TQM obstacles.

Sitkin, Sutcliffe, and Schroeder (1994) as cited in Naceur Jabnoun expresses that the “ability to balance the control and learning decides the effectiveness of” TQM of that organization.

Ryan M. Zimmerman & et al., Culture as a barrier to implement TQm in Army. Besides Lack of Management Commitment, Frederick Hau lists the other factors like resistance to change in the organization, inadequate planning before implementation, isolation of individual and departmental activities, lack of training and education, Ineffective or inoperative measurement techniques, neglecting internal and external customers.

But Minjoon Jun, DaeSoo Kim, George observes Lack of Management commitment as not the single strong barrier for TQM. Quoting, Tamimi and Sebastinelli (1998), he expresses that absence of link between managers compensation and the quality goals, Lack of benchmarking with other company’s proved quality procedures, lack of training on crisis management, risk identification and problem solving techniques can also lead to the failure of TQM.

However there are some insignificant elements that are rated as not obstacles to TQM in the study of Minjoon Jun, DaeSoo Kim, George A. Zsidisin. They are: (1) frequent management turnover (2) costly Total Quality Management programs, (3) restricted quality operations to certain departments or people. (4) Poor management decisions and commitment towards quality, (5) non customer driven quality policies and procedures and (6) Lack of quality goals in strategic plans. In addition to the above, too many layers of management are also identified as another non barrier.

Training, benchmarking, and strategic planning are identified as the common problems in the study of Minjoon Jun, DaeSoo Kim, George A. Zsidisin.

The same study also found that lack of joint planning and employee turnover rates are also the barriers for TQM

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According to Douglas et al., there is much study about the TQM practices and its benefits to any organization after implementation. It is evident from the industrial perspective that many organizations failed to achieve the said benefits after implementation.

Douglas et al., cites the arguments of Hackman & Wageman, (1995) that reasons the Partial implementation of TQM in one area of the organization or in one department may produce disturbances ultimately leading to the failure of organizational TQM practices. Another argument by Carmen, Waldman & Gopalakrishnan, (1996) as cited in Douglas et al., expresses that the absence of complementary assets may lead to the failure which other wise may be used to achieve combined TQM effort.

“Lack of Top management commitment” is also announced as the reasons for failure of Total Quality Management Efforts expressed by Brown et al., (1994) as cited in Zhang.

But Zhang observes that top management commitment itself is not sufficient. Along with strong top management commitment a personal participate in various quality management activities is also important. A strong encouragement of ‘employee involvement in quality management activities’ is also necessary. According to DuBrin (1995) as cited in Zhang, an effective leadership practice is also necessary to

encourage people to involve and self assess the level of quality of their tasks.

However, the authors T. Thiagarajan & M. Zairi, in their study conducted to understand the best practices in TQM closely observed the aspects such as ‘the role of culture, reasons for TQM programme failures, gestation period, etc.

W. A. Taylor adding to the list, expresses that “Time since TQM adoption” can also make an impact on the success or failure of the Program.

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So under the light of the above literature review it is proposed that the reasons for the failure to effective implementation should be identified in the real scenario to find out the in depth reasons for causes.

Research Questions

The study tries to answer the following two questions more deeply.

  • Why management commitment is not the single sufficient factor for the effective implementation of TQM?
  • What are the significant and non significant organizational functional features that are causing the failure to TQM process?

Proposed Research Method

The current proposes to use both Quantitative and Qualitative research methods to understand the reasons why organizations fail to successfully implement TQM. According to the Literature review both the research methods have merits and demerits over the other and have the evidence for the suitability on different occasions even when used simultaneously for a single study. The traditional methodological schools view the qualitative and quantitative methods as exclusive. But some authors like Howe and Wickens as cited in Leena Srivastava & A R Sihag perceive the possibility of using them in combination in for a single investigation. Several researches argue that both have advantages and disadvantages. Some support the mix of two approaches in their research, Wickens, (1999) as cited in Leena Srivastava & A R Sihag.

While evaluating the reasons why organizations fail to successfully implement TQM, it is assumed that some of the organizations are succeeding to implement TQM while others are failing. So it is assumed that there are certain factors for failure or success behind the TQM implementation. This can be analyzed using quantitative tools. Qualitative research has the facility in describing the background of the TQM implementation and their implementation strategies and problems encountered in different practices.

The current scope of the research compels the researcher to adopt a combination of approach in using quantitative and qualitative techniques. Both qualitative and quantitative methods contribute to major aspects of evaluation. Many researches that cannot validate the outcome through any single methodology can have an approach to this hybrid way. It is most important to derive the answer to hypothesis, rather than restraining to use the methodology.

Still the usage of hybrid methods has their own individual risks and benefits. These need to be properly evaluated before administering the method on a particular study. Frechtling & Sharp 1997 expresses that such issues can be “theoretical” or “practical”.

Qualitative Method

Qualitative method can be identified as collection of the secondary data to assess the preliminary facts of Quality process. Through qualitative study the general TQM implementation procedures and their possible outcomes in different organizational scenarios can be understood by looking at the available Literature. The current study inquires the knowledge of TQM and its successful factors. So the current research proposes to observe interview scripts and other video journals to identify the content relevant to the scope.

Qualitative research can include the research types like, action research, content analysis, case study research, grounded theory, content review, general narrative enquiry or participant observer research. Qualitative research also gives the researcher a flexibility to drive the research according to the stated scope when the research area is vast and includes sub topics. Hence qualitative methods are used to study the sensitive subjects. Though the researcher’s personal skills help in drawing the answers to the questions of hypothesis, they may result as barriers in response taking from the participants as it may face subjective bias – like researcher’s gender and qualifications to understand the subject.

Qualitative methods help to generate new theories by allowing openness in conducting the research. The discussion between research participants clarifies the ambiguity in analyzing the concepts. The lack of structural design to the qualitative results gives the inability to sum and even to replicate and to put in standardized procedure. However, the qualitative study gives much breadth and depth in understanding the reasons why organizations fail to successfully implement TQM.

Quantitative method

Quantitative methods by involving large population and allows a broader study to enhance the generalization of the results. Quantitative research is generally defined “as the collection of numerical and statistical data”. As the quantitative method involves ‘experimental’ and ‘quasi-experimental’ strategies, It can be used as the scientific approach. Harvey (2002) describes quantitative data as “data which can be sorted, classified and measured in a strictly objective way”. Such data is “capable of being accurately described by a set of rules or formulae or strict procedures which then make their definition and independent of individual judgments” (Harvey).

Quantitative research can be conducted in an artificial or unnatural environment to exercise a level of control on the research. This control can be achieved through laboratory experiments that allow comparing with the real world results. Also the results allow the researcher to know the variance between different dependents and independents of the study. In addition, predefined answers may not necessarily bring out the expected consequences of a variable but also can elicit an entirely new outcome in some instances. Such types of results are seen in the scientific research applications.

Quantitative methods are suitable to find out “who, what, when, and where”, (Day, 1998). Quantitative methods use structured and standardized methods that allow greater accuracy and objectivity of results. Usage of standards facilitates replication, analysis and can be compared with similar studies. Usually, quantitative method design involves the data summaries to support generalization about the concept under the scope of study. Quantitative research employs standard procedures to prove the reliability and validity. Kruger (2003) confirms that quantitative methods allow the researcher “to summarize vast sources of information and ease comparisons across categories and over time”.

In order to employ quantitative methods research must be aware of the issues that are in dealing from the starting of the research, “as this is when the questions are decided and documented” (McCullough, 1995). With Quantitative analysis, “the questions have to be direct and easily quantified, and made available to a sample of no less than two hundred participants to permit reliable statistical analysis” (Urban Wallace & Associates, 1995). Kruger also expresses that the elaborated statistics may create complexities in further analyzing the research.

As highlighted by Honey and Mumford (1986) all learning styles have their own advantages and disadvantages and therefore no single style can be considered the best method to undertake. So the current research study adopts the usage of hybrid method of using both quantitative as well as qualitative to identify the hypothesis.

From an evaluation perspective “the use of interviews as a data collection method starts from the assumption that informant’s perspectives are significant, useful, comprehensible, clear, and will positively affect the project and produce rich, detailed data for analysis”, (Frechtling, 1997:3; Lofland et al, 1995). The data produced from the survey is given a clear form of representation against the factors involved taking the overall consensus. The further interpretation of results through quantitative analysis can helps in identifying the prioritized list of quantified factors to understand the reasons why organizations fail to successfully implement TQM.

The quantitative research is proposed to be conducted using the questionnaire to understand what makes the testers to adopt their existing strategies.


Under qualitative analysis, the study is proposed to observe a Literature review on topics like what is TQM and implementation approaches, organizational differences, strategies, types, classifications. The written data sources that cab be used for the study include, physical or online documents, literature journals, articles, case studies, email messages, video tapes, documentaries, faxes, etc., And then the study is proposed to make a comparison of the observed Literature and facts with a direct preliminary quantitative research where the respondents will be surveyed to know the factors responsible for the effectiveness or failure of TQM. The study is proposed to use questionnaire as instrument for the quantitative tool for the research. And it is proposed that a Sample size of 100 managers from different companies and departments like – manufacturing, service and marketing oriented organizations should be used for the survey to observe the TQM assessment. A selective sampling technique should be observed to identify the respondents from the managerial position so that they can contribute their experience and opinion on TQM implementation. All the questionnaires are supposed to distribute through e-mail along with an informed consent in the in the zip format. The respondents were then contacted through telephone to solicit the reply of the filled in questionnaires through email. The questionnaire is supposed to design to collect the demographic details like, age, years of experience, culture and gender. The professional details and opinions are expected to draw from the remaining questions basing on the gap identified in the further qualitative literature review.

Proposed mode and structure of Questions

The questionnaire should be:

The proposed questions for the survey include the questions like:

  1. Do you have TQM for your whole organization?
  2. At what phase of Implementation is your TQM?
  3. Is your TQM a successful operation or a failure?
  4. How do you rate your top management commitment with the TQM operations in
  5. your organizations?
  6. Does your TQM policy involve the following Buzzwords?
  • Low Price
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Zero Errors
  • Quick delivery
  1. What are your organizational Quality goals?
  2. Do you have Quality Documentation?
  3. Do you practice any of the Industry Quality standards?
  4. When did you receive the organizational quality training?

Last week—- Last month —- 2 Months Back —– 3 months Back

  1. Do you have quality links performance evaluation?
  2. Is your organization ready for risk mitigation?
  3. Does your organization have crisis management criteria?

However, the questionnaire should aim to bring out the answers by using the following types of question formats in Survey.

Close ended questions

According to Zaller (1992) civilians do not carry fixed attitudes about an issue, they may change from time to time. But they construct “opinion statements” on assumption based ideas which are most important to them. So with regards to the current study, when the users are asked about the opinion with spontaneous questions on their daily Quality practices

Rating question

Rating scales are often used to measure the direction and intensity of attitudes. Hence it is proposed to use the rating questions to identify the perception of respondent about him/herself in terms of Quality practices.

Dichotomous questions (Yes/No)

The dichotomous or Yes/No types of questions are framed to screen out the potential responders or to consider the validation of answers of the quality practices. To bring out the confirmed opinion of the respondents, such dichotomous questions can be used in questionnaire.

Proposed Data Analysis

The data from the questionnaires is proposed to subject for the analysis using Software like Excel or SPSS for further analysis of the results.

Potential Limitations

Quality has lot of expectations and dependencies, so justification of variables cannot be possible under some parameters. Also as Quality is a continuous process Success or failure can be attributed to a particular instance only.


The current research proposal tries to come up with the research objectives after doing a preliminary literature observation. The study found that though organizations are well aware of the benefits of TQM, many could not experience them after the TQM implementation. It is perceived that beyond a strong Management commitment, there is an involvement of other factors like employee involvement, length of quality process, continuation quality process etc., So the research intends to find out the other reasons why organizations fail to successfully implement TQM by way of qualitative an quantitative study.


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  3. Leena Srivastava & A R Sihag, Defining the Scope of the Bridging Research & Policy Project.
  5. Michael Beer, Why Total Quality Management Programs Do Not Persist: The Role of Management Quality and Implications for Leading a TQM Transformation. Web.
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  10. Ryan M. Zimmerman, Overcoming the Cultural Barriers to TQM in the Army.
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