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Total quality management in higher education: A theoretical model and empirical evidence from Pakistan

Nasim, Kanwal (2021) Total quality management in higher education: A theoretical model and empirical evidence from Pakistan. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This study aims to provide and test a framework for higher education institutions (HEIs) to increase their performance through quality improvements. Despite a large body of knowledge on total quality management (TQM), there is hardly any research on an education-specific model of managing total quality to enhance organisational performance. To fill this gap, this study undertakes a review of literature in 20 years from 1997 to 2017. Based on the review, this study draws on a resource-capability view, and develops a theoretical framework of TQM for HEIs.

The framework suggests that TQM is determined by the knowledge creation and transfer (KCT) capabilities of a higher education institute (HEI), which are in turn rooted in the practices of managing three sets of resources: faculty resources, student resources and facility resources. These resource management practices constitute a high commitment learning system (HCLS) from which KCT capabilities develop. Thus, according to the framework, HEIs orchestrate their faculty, student and facility resources to develop the capabilities to create and transfer knowledge, to improve quality in teaching, learning and research, and to enhance overall performance. I derive several hypotheses from the framework for empirical testing. Consistent with the TQM construct, the framework involves everyone and everything in a HEI.

To test the hypotheses, this study collects data from all the public sector universities/HEIs of Pakistan. A web-based survey questionnaire is developed and a link is sent to faculty and administrative staff members; respondents complete the questionnaire based on their willingness. After cleaning the data, and analysing the reliability and validity of the questionnaire and its constructs, the study uses SmartPLS version 3 to test the hypotheses. SmartPLS is software with graphical user interface for variance-based structural equation modelling (SEM) using the partial least squares (PLS) method. Results of analysis support all the hypotheses. The study also conducts multigroup analysis to examine possible moderators.

This study has important implications for researchers, HEIs and higher education policy planners in Pakistan and beyond. It contributes to the literature by developing a resource-capability based framework for TQM in HEIs, and fills a vacuum in this research area. By adopting this framework, HEIs can involve all faculty staff members, students and facilities in developing KCT capabilities to achieve their desired level of quality and performance. By embracing this framework, policy planners can prepare themselves to develop policy instruments to support the development of HCLS and KCT capabilities, and thus enhance the quality and performance of HEIs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Murdoch Business School
Supervisor(s): Tian, Xiaowen and Sikander, Arif
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