defenses such as denial, and even racism. Learning was also inhibited by language and cultural barriers, the logistics of long-distance learning, efforts necessary to unearth tacit knowledge and the costs of separating out universal from peculiarly Japanese features.
Cole also calls attention to the "Crosby phenomenon": managers in the quality movement learned relatively quickly to speak the revolutionary rhetoric of TQM, but they acted in ways that were profoundly conservative. For example, U.S. firms relied heavily on error-detection rather than on error-prevention approaches. Mitigating negative outcomes after they occur is much more costly in the long run than eliminating the conditions that lead to errors. It was also suggested that the adoption of methods of "trial without error" rather than ''trial with error" may have impeded the adoption and effective use of TQM methods.
Participants identified several interesting areas for exploration. They questioned whether a TQM program is most effective if it is implemented as a top-down or as a bottom-up process. There seems to be evidence that both approaches can effect organizational change, but in different ways. They also noted the complications when organizations are downsizing or when TQM is viewed as a last resort effort to save a company, although these factors present a fertile area for research.
Other avenues for future exploration include asking who exactly were the early adopters of TQM and determining whether they reinvented or simply adopted innovations. Were there differences between early and later adopters and were there differences among industries? Most of the research has examined industrial settings; more work needs to be carried out on service and public-sector organizations. What role do wider environmental actors—such as industrial trade associations, trade unions, and governmental agencies—play in providing a more or less supportive infrastructure for TQM adoption? The effect of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards in encouraging the diffusion of TQM practice provides an interesting instance of such forces.
A recurrent theme throughout the workshop discussions centered on defining quality. Practitioners, change agents, theorists, and researchers
use a wide range of definitions (for a review of definitions, see Reeves and Bednar (1994). Some use a relatively narrow definition, focusing on the characteristics of outcomes related to reliability or performance attributes (e.g., "tonnage off the line," speed, and accuracy), but even then there is the issue of whose criteria—inside participants' or customers'—are to be used. Most students of TQM embrace a wider definition, which includes both process and outcome measures, to assess the effectiveness of the entire management system. Such definitions are encouraged by the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, for example, which stresses the importance of a "widespread systematic organizational focus on quality improvement." An even broader definition would take into account the effects of organizational activities on employee well-being. Finally, some advocates would insist that an organization must be assessed in terms of its effect on an every wider range of individuals—often termed "stakeholders"—who are affected by the organization. Such views would take into account important ''externalities" associated with the operation of an organization, particularly its effect on the welfare of the wider community and the general public. These latter views have not been widely embraced either by practitioners or researchers.
The primary effect of the TQM movement on quality criteria is to stress the orientation of the customer rather than that of the producer and to emphasize that all participants in a work process have an effect on—and therefore should be asked to take responsibility for—the quality of the goods and services being produced. Although this emphasis places great importance on human resources management systems, most of the attention—both managerial and research—to date has been placed on changes in technical production and information systems. This aspect of TQM research could benefit from better grounding in theory on organizational behavior and group processes.
Total Quality Management
A discussion about how to define TQM began early during the workshop. Workshop participants agreed that TQM is not a theory; rather, it consists of a set of prescriptive principles that are intended to improve organizational performance. These principles are sometimes grounded in, but more often they are independent of, organizational theories. Moreover, there have been to date relatively few attempts to systematically and objectively evaluate the accuracy and the potency of the prescriptions. An
important task confronting the research community is to carry out studies that will systematically test and evaluate the major TQM principles.
Concerns were raised about the fad-like character of the TQM movement. The rhetoric of TQM is engaging and appealing and often substitutes for substance. Often, only some semblance of the TQM rhetoric is in place in the organization, not firmly linked to practice, making it difficult for researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of the principles. Also, a great variety of different management ideas and techniques that were not a part of the original conception of TQM are often paraded under its banner. At best, TQM is not one set of ideas of practices; at worst, it means whatever its advocates and converts choose it to mean.
One suggestion to reduce the fad-like features of the movement was to eliminate the term "total" so that the quality management principles would not be viewed as having to satisfy all parties and all criteria. Others suggested that TQM might be viewed primarily as a human resources strategy for organizing and motivating employees. However, most participants favored the view that TQM goes beyond human resource management to take into account new technologies, the reorganization of work, new statistical measures, etc. Participants also agreed that it would be very useful to identify the particular aspects of TQM strategies that affect organizational change, both directly and indirectly.
In order to identify these aspects it is necessary to first have an overall understanding of TQM. The description of TQM provided as background reading (Hackman and Wageman, 1995) provides a good basis for such an understanding. The authors describe the practices of TQM in the context of this movement's early gurus: it encompasses assumptions about quality, people, organizations, and the role of senior management and it is a comprehensive strategy that is reflected in all levels of the organization. The strategy assumes that the costs of poor quality are far greater than the costs of developing processes that produce high-quality products and services. People are viewed as motivated to care about the quality of the work they perform and to take the initiatives to improve it as long as they are provided with the appropriate tools and skills necessary to do so. The organizations themselves are viewed as systems with highly interdependent parts in which cross-functional problems can only be addressed collectively by representatives from all relevant units. Thus, TQM is characterized by the use of teams at all levels of organizational functioning. Moreover, in TQM, quality is viewed ultimately as the responsibility of top management. Employees' work effectiveness and productivity are
viewed as a direct function of the systems created by top management. In the TQM paradigm, if things are not functioning effectively, it is viewed as a direct result of top management's not providing the structure necessary for accomplishing the specified goals.
Hackman and Wageman outline four principles to guide organizational strategies to improve quality performance. First, it is important to focus on work processes: the quality of products and services can be directly linked to the processes that produce them. Second, it is important to analyze variability: front-line employees should analyze and control variability in both processes and outcomes. Until sources of variability are identified, appropriate steps to improve work processes cannot be identified. Third is the principle of management by fact. The quality improvement program calls for the systematic collection of data, the use of statistics, and the necessity of testing solutions experimentally. The final principle involves learning and continuous improvement—a commitment to a never-ending cycle of quality enhancement. In many ways TQM requires a highly empirical approach.
Based on their review of the ideas of the early founders, Hackman and Wageman identify five core features of TQM that can serve as criteria for determining if the method has been installed in the organization. Each is represented by a question:
Are organizational members assessing customer requirements and measuring performance against those requirements continuously?
Are suppliers chosen on the basis of quality, rather than on the basis of cost, and are organization members working with suppliers to improve suppliers' quality practices?
Are members operating interdependently, as teams, across traditional organizational functions, rather than independently or in ways that maintain functional separateness?
Are members using statistics and scientific reasoning to formulate and test hypotheses about work processes and strategies for performance improvement?
Are members using process management heuristics (i.e., brainstorming, flow charts, cost and effect diagrams) to enhance team problem solving and decision making?
These questions provide one basis for empirically determining whether TQM is in place in the organization. Workshop participants
emphasized the necessity of determining whether TQM is actually functioning in the organization, rather than focusing on the intentions or plans of managers. It would be desirable to have criteria that would allow a researcher to determine the degree to which each principle was present. In order to advance scientific understanding of TQM approaches, it is essential to begin to develop a conceptual framework for making predictions about the interdependence and the importance of each TQM principle in terms of quality. Research needs to focus then on how these various practices relate to a variety of performance measures.
The Culture of Quality
The topics discussed above focused on the various practices and outcomes that are associated with TQM, such as the processes used in the production of goods and services, the quality of those products, and the resulting customer satisfaction. In the literature, these have been referred to as the small "q" in quality research as compared to the big "Q" in quality research, which encompasses organizational quality and the overall functioning of the organization. Specifically, the "Q'' approach takes into account an organization's orientation toward quality, its "culture" of quality, and the extent to which quality principles have become a part of the operational values and mind-set of managers and workers. In their workshop paper, Cameron and Barnett discuss the importance of evaluating organizational culture variables in the context of TQM research. They note that organizational culture and its links to organizational effectiveness have largely been ignored in the empirical literature. They propose methods for measuring the extent to which organizations have developed a quality culture, a subset of overall organizational culture.
It is often difficult for researchers to determine how managers and workers are actually behaving as opposed to how informants describe their behavior. In his work on the implementation of TQM systems, George Easton has found it useful to ask managers what was learned when TQM was introduced. He did this as a way to determine what was actually done because executives tend to talk about things as though they had already happened and to talk about what is going on in a certain level or unit as having occurred everywhere in the organization. Echoing this view, Tomoko Hamada suggested that to assess quality culture it is essential to determine whether upper-level management is "walking the walk" or simply "talking the talk." She argued that in terms of evaluating and understanding the culture or climate of an organization, it is very useful to