Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

Total Quality Management in the Business School: The Faculty Viewpoint

Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

Total Quality Management in the Business School: The Faculty Viewpoint

Article excerpt

The future of many universities is being influenced by external events such as demographic trends, technology, a changing economy, and intense competition among institutions (Bonser, 1992; Rubach & Stratton, 1994). In addition, state governments are increasingly concerned about the rising costs of higher education (Bonser, 1992). Because total quality management (TQM) has been recognized as a management approach that improves organizational efficiency and performance, it is now being considered as a solution to the problems facing U.S. institutions of higher education (Bonser, 1992; Feigenbaum, 1994; Froiland, 1993; Hart & Morrison, 1992; Horine, Hailey, & Rubach, 1993; Hubbard, 1994; Ivancevich & Ivancevich, 1992; Kendrick, 1993; Robinson et al., 1991; Rubach & Stratton, 1994; Stern & Tseng, 1993).

TQM is a management philosophy that is characterized by certain principles, practices, and techniques (Dean & Bowen, 1994). Total quality principles include such concepts as customer focus, continuous improvement, and teamwork. TQM seeks to create an organizational system that anticipates changes in the external environment affecting customer needs and expectations. Under a TQM approach, an organization's system - its inputs, processes and outputs - is continually improved to match these changing needs.

There are four areas in which TQM can be applied in the university environment. One would involve the use of TQM in improving university operations and administrative functions. A second would involve integrating TQM into the curriculum. A third would be to use TQM as a classroom teaching method. Finally, TQM could be used to manage university research activities. This study focused primarily on the integration of TQM into the curriculum.

U.S. business and engineering schools in particular are affected by the social, technical, and economic changes noted. In addition, a number of prominent companies are pressuring universities to integrate TQM into their curriculums (Robinson et al., 1991). These firms have already held five annual national forums in partnership with a group of universities to discuss this step. The combination of external environmental change and pressure from the business community makes TQM a priority issue for universities.

Since TQM is generally considered a management approach, the business school would most logically be the academic unit responsible for integrating it into the curriculum. This would require schools to identify their primary customers and provide faculty with opportunities to learn TQM principles.

While many institutions are considering the integration of TQM into the curriculum, few major empirical studies are available on the issue. Existing research consists either of case studies of university's implementation effort or deans' opinions about TQM. There has been no study of persons who would be primarily responsible for teaching TQM. This research study addresses this need by examining the perceptions of management professors regarding the prospects for integrating TQM principles into the business curriculum.

Review of Literature

The literature review summarizes selected research on four key issues that affect TQM implementation in the business school curriculum: perception of external pressure to adopt TQM in the curriculum; identification of customers; faculty awareness of and attitudes toward TQM; and methods to integrate TQM into the curriculum.

* External Pressure to Adopt TQM in the Curriculum

The business community has provided the primary impetus to incorporate TQM into the curriculum. In "An open letter: TQM on campus (Robinson et al., 1991)," business leaders were quite clear in their message: university leaders were expected to back the TQM movement, period. At the time this movement began, Kaplan (1991) noted that only 20% of the 20 leading business schools spent more than three sessions on quality in the introductory operations management course. …

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