'Some companies handle budgets well. Some don't. The same is true for self-managed teams… But there's nothing alien about budgeting.'
Tom Peters, Liberation Management
One of the most underrated issues in total quality management is the relationship between quality and institutional budgetary management. Most studies on TQM never mention the topic. A reading of the major quality gurus, including Deming, shows a lack of interest by them in the topic. It is surprising that writers on educational quality have ignored the topic given the key role that financial management has played in institutional decision making in recent years. However, in the discussion of the role of quality in education, it is as if financial decisions have no impact.
The debate about the effectiveness of TQM in education has largely revolved around issues of leadership, institutional mission, teamwork, student satisfaction and empowerment. While these are clearly key issues, without linking them to appropriate budgetary strategies they leave out a vital element in total quality. Without an appropriate and empowering budgetary process many of the TQM objectives are difficult to realize as they lack a relevant driving mechanism. In particular, the success of teamwork and empowerment so central to TQM is inextricably linked to the budgetary process. What does empowering teams mean if those teams do not have the resources to put their ideas into practice? Unless the institution's own resource allocation mechanisms parallel the devolution of responsibilities to teams explicit in TQM programmes, in reality that devolution will be little more than a cosmetic exercise, and empowerment will