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TQM Implementation - Inhibiting factors of implementing total quality management on construction sites

TQM Implementation - Inhibiting factors of implementing total quality management on construction sites

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Inhibiting factors of implementing total quality management on construction sites
Inhibiting factors of implementing total quality management on construction sites

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TQM implementation
Inhibiting factors of implementing totalquality management onconstruction sites
Theo C. Haupt and Daniel E. Whiteman
The authors
Theo C. Haupt
is a Research Coordinator at the PeninsulaTechnikon, Bellville, South Africa.
Daniel E. Whiteman
is President of Coastal Construction,Miami, Florida, USA.
Total quality management, Customer satisfaction,Employees participation
Quality systems entail having the organizational structure,responsibilities, procedures, processes and resources forimplementing quality management such that there is a guidingframework to ensure that every time a process is performed thesame information, method, skills and controls are used andpracticed in a consistent manner. With its primary focus beingthe involvement of everyone, TQM has the potential to improvebusiness results, greater customer orientation and satisfaction,worker involvement and fulfilment, teamworking and bettermanagement of workers within companies. However, theconstruction industry has been slow to embrace the concept of TQM. Construction firms have been continually struggling withits implementation. Historically, construction has been anindustry reluctant to implement change. Consequently, it hasremained behind where it should be on the implementation of TQM. Generally, the principles of TQM are not applied beyondmanagement levels within general contractors. This paperreports on a study to identify those factors that hinder theimplementation of TQM principles in the actual field operationsof a construction jobsite.
Electronic access
The Emerald Research Register for this journal isavailable at
The current issue and full text archive of this journal isavailable at
Aculturalandbehavioralshiftinthemind-setofallparticipants in the construction process (Kanji andWong, 1998; Love and Heng, 2000) especially topor senior management is necessary if theconstructionindustryistoimproveitsperformanceand competitiveness. For innovation andcontinuous improvement to be encouraged andbecome a norm, traditional practices need to beunlearnt. Historically, the construction industryhas been reluctant to implement change. Thisprocess of change is especially difficult in thecompetitive environment in which constructiontakes place and where the bottom line is still theprimary motivation of construction companies.Further, companies are prepared to onlyimplement those aspects of total qualitymanagement (TQM) programs that will providethemwithcompetitiveadvantageandimprovetheiroverall financial performance. Ironically, researchconducted by others such as Zantanidis andTsiotras(1998)identifiedquality asbeingthemostsignificant provider of competitive advantage.Construction companies clearly have not boughtinto this finding in their daily operations on site.A review of the essential elements of TQMgained from attendance at several construction-related TQM seminars revealed a lack of actualapplication of the processes that have made TQMsuccessful in other industries. These included alack of adequate budget, failure to plan adequatelyfor quality, inadequate training at all levels exceptfor top or senior management positions, and littlerecognition given to those who strive for qualityimprovement on their projects.Once a project was awarded it seemed that allefforts focused on getting startedwith constructionquickly, getting the subcontracts written on atimely basis, and then progressing the work in amanner that would produce thegreatest revenue inthe shortest amount of time. Quality was primarilyachieved through the inspection process. However,quality cannot be inspected into a product, it mustbe built into the product from the outset.The authors conducted a study in the UnitedStates to identify those factors that hinder theimplementation of TQM principles in the actualfield operations of a construction jobsite. Theseinhibitive factors were identified through aliterature review and a survey of a sample of contractors. This paper reports on these findings.
Research methodology
In social research, surveys are one of the mostfrequently used methods of data gathering (May,
The TQM MagazineVolume 16 · Number 3 · 2004 · pp. 166-173
Emerald Group Publishing Limited · ISSN 0954-478XDOI 10.1108/09544780410532891
1997). The survey protocol of random samplingprocedures allows a relatively small number of people to represent a much larger population(Ferber
et al.
, 1980; May, 1997; Schuman andPresser, 1981; Sonquist and Dunkelberg, 1977).The opinions and characteristics of a populationcan be explained through the use of arepresentative sample (May, 1997).Surveys are an effective means to gain data onattitudes, on issues and causal relationships.However, they can only show the strength of statistical association between variables. Surveysdo not explain changes in attitudes and views overtime. They also provide no basis to expect that thequestions are correctly interpreted by therespondents (May, 1997).Theauthorsdecidedthataquestionnairesurveywould be appropriate for achieving the objectivesof this exploratory study.
Questionnaire design
Several key members of Coastal Constructionwere selected to “brain-storm” the issues, which, if implemented, could lead to more attention beinggiven to improvement in the quality of siteoperations. From this meeting of managers, theinitial draft of the questionnaire was developed.These included a cross-section of the companymanagement structure and included projectexecutive, project manager, estimator and projectsuperintendent.Construction executives from ten differentcompanies reviewed the draft questionnaire andprovided input. This review centered ondevelopment of questions relating to theircompanies’ current use or level of implementationof TQM, and the obstacles or hindrances whichkept TQM from being more effectivelyimplemented atthe field level. This pilot study wasconducted to validate and improve thequestionnaire, in terms of its format and layout,the wording of statements and the overall content.The draft questionnaire was revised to include thesuggestions of these participants. In short, thequestionnaire was validated through this processand provided the authors with improvementopportunities before launching the main survey.
Sample selection
It was the intent of the survey to gatherinformation relating to the utilization of TQMfrom as broad a geographic area within the UnitedStates as possible. For this purpose, it wasdetermined that two sources of potentialparticipants would be used – one on a nationallevel, and one within the state of Florida.On a national level, one recognized standard formeasuring the size of a construction company isthe annual ranking of the 400 largest constructioncompanies by the publication,
Engineering NewsRecord (ENR)
. For the purposes of this survey, themailing list for the year 1998 was obtained listingthe name, address, and title of principal officer foreach of the firms listed.Within Florida, one of the leading tradeorganizations is the Associated GeneralContractors (AGC), which is the oldest suchorganization in the country. Owing to the largenumber of firms within this organization, arandom selection of 80 of these firms was madefrom each of the five different geographicalchapters throughout the state of Florida using thesystematic sampling technique, with a total of 16firms from each region selected to achieve a cross-section of the entire state. A total of 480questionnaires were sent out.
Survey response
As a result of two mailings and a follow up phonesurvey,atotalof87questionnaireswerecompletedby the
ENR 400 
contractors, or a total of 21.75percent of those surveyed. On the Florida level,there were a total of 23 completed questionnairesoutofthe 80that weresolicited, fora responserateof 28.75 percent. Overall, the response rate for the480 questionnaires mailed was 110 completedquestionnaires, or 22.92 percent. A review of theresponses from both the national and statewidesurveys indicated no measurable differences in therespondents’ answers to the questions. The twogroups were therefore combined for the analysis of this survey.
Participants in the study were asked to respond toseveral questions relating to the importance of certain criteria to the successful implementation of TQM in their companies. While only selectedresponses are discussed in this paper, the completeranking of responses is shown in Table I.
Success criteria
Management commitment and involvement 
In recent times, there has been an unprecedentedpreoccupation by managers in more organizationsthan ever with quality issues. Top management isone of several major critical factors ororganizational requirements for effective qualitymanagement. Successful quality performancerequires top management to be dedicated to thatgoal.Almost all of the 109 valid[1] responses to thequestionnaire survey regarded as important, the
Inhibiting factors of implementing total quality management
Theo C. Haupt and Daniel E. Whiteman 
The TQM MagazineVolume 16 · Number 3 · 2004 · 166-173
commitment and involvement of their top orsenior management in the TQM process for itssuccessful implementation.This finding accords with those of several otherstudies (Anderson
et al.
, 1994; Douglas and Judge,2001; Kathuria and Davis, 1999; Miller, 1996;Rahman, 2001; Reed
et al.
, 2000; Saraph
et al.
,1988; Tata and Prasad, 1998). Those in topmanagement must provide the initiative forsuccessful quality assurance practices and mustsupport quality programs for them to besuccessful. Management leadership is regarded asone of the categories needed for adoption asdetermined by the Malcom Baldridge NationalQuality Award in the United States. Haupt (2001)confirms the pivotal role of managementcommitment by citing Petersen (1996, p. 278) asfollows:
Management’s reaction to change determinessuccess. When upper management “buys in” to thechanges, it ensures success.
Further, management must have the capacity andwillingness to introduce and support the TQMprocess if it is to succeed. According to Petersen(1996, p. 266):
Another way in which behavior is stronglyinfluenced is through modeling (learning byimitation). The research onmodeling tells us thatif we want to maximize approach (rather thanavoidance) tendencies in workers, we must exhibitthat behavior ourselves.
The pivotal role of top management for qualityimprovement programs is embodied in theworking definition of Whiteman (2002) of TQMfor construction firms which states that:
TQM is a continuous process whereby the topmanagement of construction firms take whateversteps are necessary to enable everyone in theorganization, especially construction fieldsupervisors and construction workers in the courseof executing all their activities on construction sitesto establish and achieve standards, which includecompletion on time, within budget, to optimumquality standards, and without loss of life or limb,and exceed the needs and expectations of theirclients, both internal and external.
Several studies have shown that the lack of upperor top management involvement or commitmentto TQM is a stumbling block to its successfulimplementation (Glover, 2000; Shriener
et al.
Customer focus
All respondents regarded primary customer focusas the next most important requirement forsuccessful TQM implementation. Several authorsby definition consider customer focus as equallyimportant as upper management involvement andcommitment to TQM principles (Anfuso, 1994;AssociatedGeneral Contractors ofAmerica,1992;BS 4778, 1991; Kelemen, 2000). In many studies,the issue of customer satisfaction or focus featuredprominently as a defining concept or criticalelementofTQM implementation(Anderson
et al.
,1994; Black and Porter, 1996; Douglas and Judge,2001; Rahman, 2001; Shammas-Toma
et al.
,1998; Tata and Prasad, 1998).
Participative management style
Participative management was an importantcriterion to the respondents in the implementationof TQM. This finding is well-supported in theliterature (Ho
et al.
, 2000; Kathuria and Davis,1999; Stashevsky and Elizur, 2000; Yong andWilkinson, 2001). The importance of participativemanagement is suggested by the notions of relationship oriented practices (Kathuria andDavis,1999),employeefulfilment(Anderson
,1994), teamwork (Black and Porter, 1996;Shammas-Toma
et al.
, 1998), employeeinvolvement, empowerment and teamwork (Kolsand Sherman, 1998; Tata and Prasad, 1998),employee relations (Saraph
et al.
, 1988), people(Rahman, 2001; Yusof and Aspinwall, 2000), and
Table I
Ranking of responses of all respondents to TQM criteria
Rank(full sample) Criteria Mean
SD CV (percent)
Top management commitment 3.98 1.20 30.2
Top management involvement 3.78 1.29 34.1
Primary customer focus 3.76 1.07 28.5
Well developed planning 3.40 1.29 37.9
Participative management style 3.22 1.28 39.8
Continuous improvement measurements 3.04 1.33 43.8
Rewards for TQM contributions 2.99 1.45 48.5
TQM applied to all eld operations 2.85 1.41 49.5
Workers trained in TQM 2.71 1.35 49.8
On the scale used, 1 = totally disagree, 2 = generally disagree, 3 = somewhat agree, 4 = generally agree, 5 = totally agree;
coefficient of variation (CV percent) is a quantity designed to give a relative measure of variability. The CV expresses the standarddeviation as a percent of the mean
Inhibiting factors of implementing total quality management
Theo C. Haupt and Daniel E. Whiteman 
The TQM MagazineVolume 16 · Number 3 · 2004 · 166-173

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