An operational and institutional perspective on total quality management

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Although Total Quality Management (TQM) is widely touted as a management paradigm that will enable firms to gain a competitive advantage, many practitioners report that TQM programs fail to live up to their expectations. There is an on-going debate over the effectiveness of TQM in the literature. This study investigates a number of controversial benefits of TQM. We seek to determine if TQM is generally beneficial to the firms that adopt it, and if these firms gain operational efficiency over time and secure institutional values. We also attempt to discern if advanced TQM adopters lead to different management paradigms, as proponents of TQM claim, or if both TQM and non-TQM firms can be equally successful. Based on a study of 225 TQM and non-TQM electronics manufacturing firms in Hong Kong, we find that the adoption of TQM correlates with significant advances in performance measures. However, unlike other organizational innovations, the implementation of TQM in industry does not follow a social perspective in institutional theory that there seems to be no legitimacy effect. A comparison of advanced TQM firms and leading non-TQM firms reveals that they do not differ in their organizational performances. No distinctive TQM paradigms are found, implying equifinality in quality management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-170
Number of pages15
JournalProduction and Operations Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2006


  • Empirical research
  • Institutional perspective
  • Organizational performance
  • Total Quality Management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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