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How do individual cultural values impact the success of Total Quality Management (TQM) programmes? Evidence from a cross-cultural study

Parncharoen, Charunya (2002) How do individual cultural values impact the success of Total Quality Management (TQM) programmes? Evidence from a cross-cultural study. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Regarded as a tool for improving quality and potentially other performance related outcomes, total quality management (TQM) is held as a key way of achieving competitive advantages in the today's global work context (Anderson & Adams, 1997; Evans & Lindsay, 1996; Gunasekaran, 1999; Nakhai & Neves, 1994). A review of the existing literature however, suggests that two-thirds of all quality programmes fail to show improvement in organisational performance. Cultural differences have been cited as one of the significant contributors to these failures. Although a myriad of studies exist which support this claim (for example see Galperin, 1995; Nasierowski & Coleman, 1997; Tata & Prasad, 1998), empirical investigations of the role of individual cultural values on TQM success have been neglected.

This study aims to examine the impact of those personal variables, specifically individual perceptions of cultural values, on the success of TQM implementation. First, the consensus among the perceptions of Western and Asian quality management consultants as to the key factors contributing to TQM success was determined using the Delphi technique. Data collected from a number of Australian and Thai quality consultancy companies showed that five common factors, including level of management leadership, focus on customers, employee involvement, commitment to education and training, and provision of quality information were identified as essential. These factors were consequently used to develop a measure of employees' perception regarding TQM success.

A cross-sectional survey was thereafter conducted to examine the impact of individual cultural values on TQM success utilising data collected from employees who worked for Australian and Thai quality management organisations. Using structural equation modelling (SEM), results from this study showed that the basic causality structure of the relationships between organisational design and TQM success is similar for the Australian and Thai samples. The importance (or existence) of some relationships of organisational design (as measured by formalisation, centralisation, and reward system) and TQM success (as measured by perceived corporate quality culture, organisational commitment, and perceived business results) varies between these two models. Supplementary analysis indicated that out of four cultural values, power distance is the sole individual cultural value that moderates the relationship between organisational design and TQM success. This suggests that cultural values can play an important role in the implementation of TQM programmes, a notion that has been ignored in past research. Implications for valuing cultural values as part of implementing a successful TQM programme and limitations of this study are discussed.

The outcomes of this study are useful in designing and developing TQM applications suited to a particular cultural context. Furthermore, through broadening our understanding of the operational challenges faced by organisations in implementing TQM programmes, joint ventures between the different countries may be greatly enhanced.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Business, Information Technology and Law
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Entrekin, Lanny and Girardi, Antonia
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