Total Quality Management – Definition

Cite this article as:"Total Quality Management – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated May 5, 2019, last accessed December 4, 2020,

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Total Quality Management  Definition

Total Quality Management (TQM) refers to a structured process aimed at enhancing customer satisfaction through the improvement of a company’s output (goods and services) and internal processes. TQM is a continuous process of removing or reducing to the barest minimum manufacturing errors and internal inadequacies that affect the overall quality of a good or service.

TQM was developed by William Deming, it is an approach to organizational management that focuses on improving processes and standards that translate to customer satisfaction. TQM aims to reduce manufacturing and internal defects of a company. It shares a lot in common with the Sigma improvement process but they are not the same.

A Little More on What is Total Quality Management

Customer experience or satisfaction is crucial to any organization regards of the type of goods they produce or services they render. Aside from maximising profit, companies derived a level of satisfaction, prestige and reputation when they get positive feedbacks from satisfied clients. Total Quality Management (TQM) is an approach organizations use to deliver improved goods and services. This entails using internal practises and standard measures to avert or eliminate errors during production and also correct them when they occur. Embracing acceptable industry standards and professional practises and ethical operations can help improve the quality of an organization’s outputs.

Central to the aims and goals of TQM is the production of goods and services for customer satisfaction, this is why TQM is regarded as a customer-based approach or process. Through a continuous improvement of organization standards, internal processes and business operations, this goal can be achieved. For an organization to achieve an effective TQM, certain guidelines and standards must be set for employees to follow. These standards are not expected to be imaginary ones, rather, realistic rules, protocols and standards that employees should practise. In order to improve the quality of products and services, there is need to improve production procedures and internal processes.

Although, TQM started as an organizational approach used in the manufacturing industry, its usefulness has spread across all industries. This approach is useful in diverse industries because of its emphasis on fact-based decision making and the use of performance metrics for progress monitoring.

Banking and finance industry, auditing industry, medicine industry and many others use the TQM techniques in their various departments. The goal is to ensure that employees comply with acceptable practises and standards that lead to an improved customer satisfaction.

References for Total Quality Management

Academic Research on Total Quality Management

Total quality management as competitive advantage: a review and empirical study, Powell, T. C. (1995). Strategic management journal, 16(1), 15-37.

Total quality management, Evans, J. R. (2002). Total quality management. INFOR, 40(4), 364.

Total quality management: Empirical, conceptual, and practical issues, Hackman, J. R., & Wageman, R. (1995). Administrative science quarterly, 309-342.

The relationship between total quality management practices and operational performance, Samson, D., & Terziovski, M. (1999). Journal of operations management, 17(4), 393-409.

Total quality management in SMEs, Ghobadian, A., & Gallear, D. N. (1996). Omega, 24(1), 83-106.

The relationship between total quality management practices and their effects on firm performance, Kaynak, H. (2003). Journal of operations management, 21(4), 405-435.

The rhetoric and reality of total quality management, Zbaracki, M. J. (1998). Administrative science quarterly, 602-636.

Distinguishing control from learning in total quality management: A contingency perspective, Sitkin, S. B., Sutcliffe, K. M., & Schroeder, R. G. (1994). Academy of management review, 19(3), 537-564.

Assessing the impact of continuous quality improvement/total quality management: concept versus implementation., Shortell, S. M., O’Brien, J. L., Carman, J. M., Foster, R. W., Hughes, E. F., Boerstler, H., & O’Connor, E. J. (1995). Health services research, 30(2), 377.

Adapting total quality management (TQM) to government, Swiss, J. E. (1992). Public Administration Review, 356-362.

Total quality management implementation and competitive advantage: the role of structural control and exploration, Douglas, T. J., & Judge Jr, W. Q. (2001). Academy of Management journal, 44(1), 158-169.

management, and financial performance, Hendricks, K. B., & Singhal, V. R. (2001). Journal of operations management, 19(3), 269-285.

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