Total Quality Management

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Since the late 1980s, firms around the world have launched Total Quality Management (TQM) programs in an attempt to retain or regain competitiveness in order to achieve customer satisfaction in the face of increasing competition from around the world in this era of globalization. TQM is an integrative philosophy of management for continuously improving the quality of products and processes. [1]

TQM functions on the premise that the quality of the products and processes is the responsibility of everyone who is involved with the creation or consumption of the products or services offered by the organization. In other words, TQM capitalizes on the involvement of management, workforce, suppliers, and even customers, in order to meet or exceed customer expectations. Considering the practices of TQM as discussed in six empirical studies, Cua, McKone, and Schroeder (2001) identified the nine common TQM practices as cross-functional product design, process management, supplier quality management, customer involvement, information and feedback, committed leadership, strategic planning, cross-functional training, and employee involvement. [2]

TQM and Six Sigma

The Six Sigma process improvement originated in 1986 from Motorola’s drive towards reducing defects by minimizing variation in processes through metrics measurement. [3] Applications of the Six Sigma project execution methodology have since expanded to include practices common in Total Quality Management and Supply Chain Management, such as increasing customer satisfaction, and developing closer supplier relationships. [4]

The main difference between TQM and Six Sigma (a newer concept) is the approach. TQM tries to improve quality by ensuring conformance to internal requirements, while Six Sigma focuses on improving quality by reducing the number of defects and impurities.[5]


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