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  International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management The application of TQM: organic or mechanistic? Brad Moore Alan Brown  Article information: To cite this document:Brad Moore Alan Brown, (2006), The application of TQM: organic or mechanistic? , International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 23 Iss 7 pp. 721 - 742 Permanent link to this document: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02656710610679798 Downloaded on: 22 August 2016, At: 12:49 (PT)References: this document contains references to 34 other documents.To copy this document: permissions@emeraldinsight.comThe fulltext of this document has been downloaded 2911 times since 2006* Users who downloaded this article also downloaded: (2003), Organic vs. Mechanistic Structures: Construction and Validation of a Scale of Measurement ,Management Research: Journal of the Iberoamerican Academy of Management, Vol. 1 Iss 1 pp. 111-123http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/15365430380000521(2012), Chapter 4 Mechanistic and Organic Innovations , Studies in Managerial and Financial Accounting,Vol. 24 pp. 51-70 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3512(2012)0000024008(2014), Organisational paradigms and sustainability in excellence: From mechanistic approaches tolearning and innovation , International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, Vol. 6 Iss 2/3 pp. 181-190http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/IJQSS-02-2014-0020 Access to this document was granted through an Emerald subscription provided by emerald-srm:273599 [] For Authors If you would like to write for this, or any other Emerald publication, then please use our Emerald forAuthors service information about how to choose which publication to write for and submission guidelinesare available for all. Please visit www.emeraldinsight.com/authors for more information.  About Emerald www.emeraldinsight.com Emerald is a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society. The companymanages a portfolio of more than 290 journals and over 2,350 books and book series volumes, as well asproviding an extensive range of online products and additional customer resources and services. Emerald is both COUNTER 4 and TRANSFER compliant. The organization is a partner of the Committeeon Publication Ethics (COPE) and also works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archivepreservation.    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  a  s   G  a   d   j  a   h   M  a   d  a   A   t   1   2  :   4   9   2   2   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   6   (   P   T   )  *Related content and download information correct at time of download.    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  a  s   G  a   d   j  a   h   M  a   d  a   A   t   1   2  :   4   9   2   2   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   6   (   P   T   )  The application of TQM:organic or mechanistic? Brad Moore and Alan Brown  Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia Abstract Purpose  – This paper aims to examine the application of Total Quality Management (TQM) in fiveorganizations in light of the assumption that its implementation is an ongoing negotiated order ratherthan an objective reality as often accepted by the literature. Guided by a theoretical frameworkidentified by Spencer (1994), the perceptions of a cross-section of managers and employees in theseorganizations are used to establish the nature of applied TQM in terms of mechanistic and organic“mental models” of organization. Design/methodology/approach  – The paper shows that research methodology is qualitative, andevidence was collected primarily through semi-structured in-depth interviews. A non-quantifyinggeneral analytic methodology was used to analyse the evidence collected via convenience sampling. Findings  – The findings in this paper indicate that, in three of the organizations, TQM is beingapplied in generally organic ways. In the other two organizations, strong influences of the mechanisticmodel were detected. In many cases, elements of both mechanistic and organic approaches can befound in the same organization. Research limitations/implications  – The research in this paper is qualitative and exploratory innature and, as such, does not attempt to investigate the implementation of TQM across a large numberof organizations nor generalize the findings. Originality/value  – The research in this paper has significant srcinality as there is little research,to date, evident on the alternative view, of the implementation of TQM, espoused by Spencer (1994).The research contributes to the literature by demonstrating that the application of TQM can be bothmechanistic and organic, encouraging the debate to focus on the nature of the variation of implementation as a subject of discussion in its own right. Keywords  Quality, Total quality management, Research methods Paper type  Research paper Introduction In recent times, a dominant and persistent theme in management thinking throughoutthe business world has been the philosophy of Total Quality Management (TQM).There is no universally accepted definition of TQM, although Miller (1996, p. 157)suggests that it is “an ongoing process whereby top management takes whatever stepsnecessary to enable everyone in the organization in the course of performing all dutiesto establish and achieve standards which meet or exceed the needs and expectations of their customers, both external and internal.” Indeed, whilst TQM is often now knownby other names, it is widely accepted that few organizations can long avoid demandsfor a top driven and integrated customer focussed approach to business and theongoing improvement of the quality of their goods and services.Certainly, TQM has achieved both a rare celebrity and widespread notorietyafforded to few such ideas previously, based on the number of papers published overthe past decade and a half. It appears most palatable to many practitioners as itencompasses many fundamentalissuesin understanding andmanagingorganizations. The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0265-671X.htm Organic ormechanistic? 721 Received July 2004Revised April 2005 International Journal of Quality &Reliability ManagementVol. 23 No. 7, 2006pp. 721-742 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited0265-671XDOI 10.1108/02656710610679798    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  a  s   G  a   d   j  a   h   M  a   d  a   A   t   1   2  :   4   9   2   2   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   6   (   P   T   )  In offering a possible reason for the attractiveness of TQM to decision makers and itswidespread adoption, Wilkinson and Willmott (1995), suggested that it, in part, “holdsout the promise of a unified set of principles which can guide managers through thenumerous choices open to them or might even make choosing unnecessary” (p. 8).However, TQM has drawn wide criticism in the academic literature, especially inrelation to the absence of empirical and theoretical work into the key elements of thephilosophy (Dean and Bowen, 1994; Hackman and Wageman, 1995). Proponents of TQM in the popular management literature have often projected the principles of TQMas axiomatic and to be accepted as articles of faith, yet studies such as Mathews (1992)and Fuchsberg (1993) (cited in Powell, 1995, p. 16) have failed to show that TQM firmsconsistently outperform non-TQM firms. Wilkinson  et al.  (1995) show relatively lowmanagerialperceptions of success with quality managementprograms in the UKin theearly nineties. On the other hand, a number of studies argue that implementationimproves organizational performance (see, for example, Easton and Jarrell, 1998;Hendricks and Singhal, 2001; Lawler  et al. , 1992; Walton, 1989). Further, Reed  et al. (2000, pp. 5, 19) argue that TQM can generate a sustainable competitive advantage fororganizations.A cornerstone to the arguments about the efficacy of TQM is that it is an objectivereality that is amenable to relatively precise measurement. According to this wisdom,organizations objectively discover TQM,choose either toimplement itor not, and if theydo implement it, clearly succeed or fail in the attempt. Spencer (1994) has provided analternative possibility: that the implementation of TQM is continuously enacted byorganizational participants and is informed by the frailties of human understanding andthe biases of human perspectives. This alternative view moves away from an outcomesbased assessment of TQM that pervades much of the literature, towards a focus on theimplementation process as a worthwhile area of study  per se . Here, notions of success orfailure that rely on some objectively set criteria cease to have immediate relevance.Spencer(1994)hassuggestedthatmentalmodels,assumptionsandpreconceptionsofthenature of organizations strongly influence the way people in fact organize.This research aims to examine the enactment of TQM in five, medium- tolarge-sized organizations, and to consider this implementation in terms of dominantmodels of organization. Further, this research seeks to do so in a neutral manner,without extolling or condemning the different approaches to implementation observed. Organic and mechanistic approaches to TQM It is one thing to suggest that the implementation of TQM in organizations is anenacted rather than an objective order, but quite a different prospect to showconvincingly whether any given implementation reflects one model, or pattern of thinking, or another. Spencer (1994, p. 446) argued that TQM is a “comprehensivemanagement practice that captures signals from established models of organizationand amplifies them by providing a methodology for use.” From a review of the TQMliterature, Spencer (1994) proposed that there are seven major doctrinal dimensions of this methodology into which the basic tenets of TQM fall: organizational goals;definition of quality; role and nature of the environment; role of the management; roleof the employees; structural rationality and philosophy toward change. Eachdimension allows the basic nature of TQM to be made explicit. For example, thedefinition of quality is seen as satisfying or delighting the customer and the role of  IJQRM23,7 722    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  a  s   G  a   d   j  a   h   M  a   d  a   A   t   1   2  :   4   9   2   2   A  u  g  u  s   t   2   0   1   6   (   P   T   )
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