It has been surmised that there is a particularly British perspective on the idea of Total Quality Management (TQM), and that this perspective differs from the perspective held in the United States or other countries. Addressed here is a review of this concept, in order to determine whether this British perspective is something that is actually seen, or whether it is a myth. Naturally, it is not possible for the British version of TQM to be completely different from other versions, because TQM has certain traits and characteristics to it which must be addressed by any company using it. Regardless of this, the way a company chooses to use TQM and which parts of the TQM approach they emphasize can be related to culture. Because the British culture carries over into how business is conducted in that country, it stands to reason that there will be differences in communication and other facets of TQM when compared with the United States or other countries.
TQM was originally adopted by the Japanese, so comparisons here will generally be between the British and Japanese perspective and/or between the British and American perspective. These comparisons will help to emphasize the similarities and differences that come about between British TQM and the TQM ideals and beliefs seen most commonly in other countries. Additionally, each company may put its own "spin" on the way it uses TQM, and that can be seen regardless of the culture in which that company operates. British companies do this, as do companies located in other countries. This will not damage the study's goals, however, because the overarching culture is the focus.
Total Quality Management is highly important to any company, because the goal of TQM is to focus on doing things correctly the first time they are done, as opposed to needing to go back and do them over again (Ahire, 1997; Anand, Ward, & Tatikonda, 2010; Kanji, Malek, & Tambi, 1999). That eliminates defects from the beginning and stops the cycle of problems that could otherwise develop further down the line (Ahire, 1997; Cua, McKone, & Schroeder, 2001; Deming, 1986). While it is not possible to avoid every defect or problem within a company's manufacturing processes, it is often easier to catch and correct these problems at the beginning, instead of discovering them at a later date when the product or a large percentage of it has already been created (Crosby, 1989; Feigenbaum, 1991; Ishikawa, 1985). Reduction of flaws in the finished product as well as reduction of time and cost spent to correct those flaws are all very important issues for TQM and those who practice it (Juran, 1989; Kanji, Malek, & Tambi, 1999). While TQM was originally developed by an American, the ideas behind it have traveled the globe and become important to companies in many different countries (Deming, 1986; Kanji, Malek, & Tambi, 1999).
A discussion of TQM often includes the claim that it is possible to guarantee success using the practices and tenets of total quality management (Deming, 1986; British Council, 2012). Some believe this, but others argue that it is not possible to "guarantee" anything simply because a company chooses to use a particular kind of quality control (Ahire, 1997; Ishikawa, 1985). The discussion here, however, will not be focused on whether TQM creates perfection. The focus here is on the way in which TQM has been used by companies in the UK and how the British perspective is different from the perspective of TQM that is held by other countries - most notably Japan and the United States. Overall, the UK has been slower to adopt TQM than some other countries, especially in higher education applications (Kanji, Malek, & Tambi, 1999). TQM was originally used in manufacturing, where the production of goods was most important. Over time, the usage of it changed, so that service industries could get involved in a change in management style and a change in how they work toward making customers and end users happier.
Where TQM has been adopted, there has been an improvement seen in the quality of the goods and services produced (British Council, 2012; Crosby, 1989; Kanji, Malek, & Tambi, 1999). This has been the case in both good and service industries, and has also been seen to be accurate no matter the culture. The largest differences in how TQM is used culturally come from two areas: long-held attitudes about how things can and should be done, and communication issues. The way people communicate in business deeply affects the use of TQM, and communication is an area where the British perspective is often different from the perspective of many other countries and cultures.
Discussion and Literature Review
The best way to address the British perspective of TQM is to examine the British Council's eight different elements of total quality management. These are ethics, integrity, trust, training, teamwork, leadership, communication, and recognition (British Council, 2012). Addressing each aspect individually will allow distinctions to be made between the specific areas of TQM as opposed to grouping them all together. Many people fail to realize that TQM is a process, not just a catch-all term for doing a good job (Cua, McKone, & Schroeder, 2001; Kanji, Malek, & Tambi, 1999). The British perspective on service is very different from the American one, or from what the Japanese do (Ishikawa, 1985; Juran, 1989). However, that does not mean that the desire for quality is any different. In many ways TQM is the same no matter where one goes.
Where ethics are concerned, the British perspective focuses on the management (British Council, 2012; Kanji, Malek, & Tambi, 1999). Yes, it is important for the workers to be ethical, but the main starting point for ethics must always be the management. The business code of ethics will be created by the managers, and all of the employees and personnel of the company will be required to abide by that code (British Council, 2012). It does not matter whether the person actually agrees with the code or not, because it is part of the rules set out by management. Workers are generally always encouraged to do their best, but there is more to the issue than just acting "proper" and treating customers well. For companies that are uncertain how to handle the ethics document, an outside company can be hired to provide information and insight (British Council, 2012; Kanji, Malek, & Tambi, 1999).
Integrity is another part of the TQM equation (British Council, 2012). Sincerity, honest, fairness, and values are all part of what makes up integrity from the British perspective. Morals are also very important. Companies and individuals do not want to do business with other companies that are not treating them properly or that do not "play fair" in the most basic sense. While it is true that companies need to make a profit, the way in which they do so is often related to the TQM practices they have (Deming, 1986). Another reason that integrity is so important is due to the fact that it is related to trust. Without a level of trust between the workers in a company and the customers of that company, there is a serious breakdown in what can be accomplished (Kanji, Malek, & Tambi, 1999). Additionally, the trust between management and workers, and amongst the workers themselves, is also vital. Trusting workers to make their own decisions and not have to get management permission for everything is one of the best ways to make workers enjoy being responsible and doing the right thing for the company (British Council, 2012).
Where many companies neglect their TQM duties is in the training of employees (Deming, 1986). When appropriate training is received, workers are more productive. They are able to do more, and they want to do more. In the U.S., companies often train their workers to do the job adequately, and then they "turn them loose" to perform that job (Deming, 1986). As a consequence of that, most employees are never more than merely adequate. From the British perspective, the training of employees does not stop when the employee is capable of performing the job (British Council, 2012; Kanji, Malek, & Tambi, 1999). That is just the beginning. Training is an ongoing collaboration between the management and the employees, in order to ensure that each employee is as capable as possible and remains highly productive, whether on his or her own or in a team environment (British Council, 2012).
TQM must involve Total Quality Management. Everyone throughout the organization has to be involved in the quality of the product or service produced (British Council, 2012). If the involvement is not total, there are areas in which the good or service could break down and quality could suffer. The way to keep the quality throughout the entire organization is to have people working in teams. Getting individuals from different departments to work together and/or to work on…