Total Quality Management and the 21st Century Organization

Total Quality Management (TQM) is the management philosophy singularly focused upon a corporation’s customers. By continuously monitoring, adjusting, and creating new processes, companies are able to create the highest quality product for their consumer base, following the assumption that these consumers will then equate that corporation with quality products, therefore, establishing a superior brand image and forecasting future sales from loyal consumers.

In the following analysis, this author will discuss TQM as it exists in 21st century corporations, with a particular emphasis on the effect of globalization on TQM practices. A comparison of traditional management styles to TQM will follow. Lastly, this author will examine ways that TQM practices could affect XXXXX Corporation, a merchandiser for [Major Retailer] stores throughout the nation.

The Impact of Globalization on TQM

21st century globalization has greatly impacted TQM philosophies in organizations. U.S. corporations now carefully consider outsourcing production and manufacturing, as the labor costs in other countries is considerably less expensive than those of American workers. When a corporation chooses to either expand operations to a foreign country or begin selling products or services globally, two major conflicts may arise and disrupt TQM practices.

First, culture undoubtedly affects workplace behavior. It has been clearly identified that many societies during the post World War II period became accustomed to shoddy craftsmanship and inexpensive products that would not last over time. Due to this cultural shift in consumer behavior, it is entirely possible that other countries, long involved in the production of such inferior products, still retain this theory that products need not be well-made; instead, the quantity of products pushed out the door is the major focus.

For example, southeastern Asiatic nations such as Taiwan, Korea and China began manufacturing inexpensive consumer goods during the early 19th century. Products composed of plastics, ceramics, china, and pottery were produced on a huge scale, and exported to industrialized nations such as the United States. Despite the fact that American collectors now prize these “kitschy” products, during the 1970s consumers in the U.S. began to value product quality after a string of product recalls and a significant recession. Products needed to be crafted for longevity; Americans simply could not afford to purchase “throwaway” goods.  This cultural consumer behavior exerted upon Asian producers surely influenced their production techniques. In the 1980s Korean automobile manufacturer Hyundai unveiled several models to the U.S. market. After proving themselves to be of questionable quality, Americans soon believed Asian auto manufacturers could not compete, from a quality standpoint, with Detroit’s auto-makers (Edmunds.com; n.d.).

However, in the late 1990s Hyundai autos resurfaced on the U.S. automobile dealership terrain. Offered with extensive warranties, the automobiles were first received slowly due to Hyundai’s reputation from the past. However, Hyundai and its subsidiary brand Kia now command an impressive market share of the U.S. auto market, and are considered by many American drivers to be a maker of inexpensive yet durable auto products (Haille, D.; Aug. 2006).

Companies that produce or offer products and services in other countries have an influence imposed upon their TQM practices due to cultural belief systems and past consumer experiences. Globalization exerts different forces upon corporations, and these influences can negatively impact company’s commitment to TQM philosophies.

Total Quality Management Compared to Traditional Management Philosophies

While TQM may be practiced by traditional organizations, it has very different focuses from that of traditional management philosophies. Several key tenets of TQM are virtually opposite that of the 20th century organization.

First, TQM is a customer oriented management style instead of a company-focused belief system. The conventional corporation is led by executives constantly seeking to improve the organization for the benefit of its internal and external shareholders. TQM is dedicated to the philosophy that an organization cannot succeed without satisfying its customers – their needs come first. This customer focus creates a very different organizational culture, as employees recognize which entity funds their salaries. While the corporation may write the paycheck, the financial strength comes from satisfied customers that continue to purchase products (Bacal, R.; n.d.).

Second, organizations practicing the TQM philosophy tend to have a more long-term focus. Classical management principles dictate that leaders are constantly observing and reacting to current data, with an eye for both solving crises quickly and producing financial successes immediately. TQM is a management theory poised towards future goals. Developing an organization to fully implement TQM principles is a lengthy and often expensive goal. From a value creation standpoint, TQM is worth the time and cost. An organization thoroughly practicing TQM, from production to marketing, is clearly setting its sights on future success. TQM at its heart is a long-term goal – both in embedding TQM in its value system and in its dedication to creating satisfied customers for their lifetime.

Sunbelt Services, Inc. and Total Quality Management

XXXXX Corporation is a merchandising organization servicing [Major Retailer] stores nationwide. The company relies upon manufacturing-like production goals in order to effectively place [Major Retailer] products in the proper spots. TQM could be a perfect fit for this production oriented service organization. Not only could TQM help managers evaluate, train, and communicate with field merchandising representatives, but the organization’s leadership may be able to center on the relationship between XXXXX Corporation and [Major Retailer]. In an organization with incredibly high turnover rates, employee retention could be achieved through the incorporation of TQM principles in XXXXX Corporation’s philosophy.

Conclusion

TQM is a non-traditional management style focused upon long-term customer satisfaction. While the 21st century wave of globalization has exerted new pressures on the TQM organization, the philosophy is bound by a belief system suited for the customer-oriented organization.

Resources

Bacal, R. (n.d.). “TQM – What Is It?”. Retrieved online October 12, 2007 from http://performance-appraisals.org/Bacalsappraisalarticles/articles/tqm1.htm.

Burrill, C.W. & Ledolter, J. (1999). “Achieving Quality Through Continual Improvement” (1 E). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved online through the University of Phoenix student webpage (eResource) on October 12, 2007.

Edmunds.com (n.d.). “Hyundai History”. Retrieved online October 13, 2007 from http://www.edmunds.com/hyundai/history.html.

Maille, D. (Aug. 2006). “Why Ford Motor Company Is Losing Market Share Fast To Hyundai”. Retrieved online October 13, 2007 from http://ezinearticles.com/?Why-Ford-Motor-Company-Is-Losing-Market-Share-Fast-To-Hyundai&id=274198

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