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Total quality management and the Deming approach to quality management

by Peter B. Petersen
Journal of Management History ()
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This article discusses the total quality management (TQM) movement and then elaborates about W. Edwards Deming’s experiences and views. Finally, there is a comparison of total quality management and the Deming approach to quality management. The TQM movement was attractive to many organizations during the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s. To succeed, total quality management had many long-term requirements. One of these was that top management must have a passion for the subject. Without this sustained passion top management’s attention and energy towards TQM would be diverted to other pressing needs. While Deming insisted that there was no “instant pudding”, many consultants in establishing themselves with a client suggested short-term gains. Because of this search for short-term gains, process improvement and reductions in cycle time became very popular and in some cases a final objective. Unfortunately, after they ran their short-term course, many efforts collapsed and TQM was often declared a failure.

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