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Total Quality Management

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Theories and concepts in total

quality management

John A. Dotchin & John S. Oakland

European Centre for TQM, University of Bradford,

Management Centre, Emm Lane, Bradford, West Yorkshire,
Version of record first published: 28 Jul 2006.

To cite this article: John A. Dotchin & John S. Oakland (1992): Theories and concepts in total
quality management, Total Quality Management, 3:2, 133-146
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Theories and concepts in total quality



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European Centre for T Q M , University of Bradford, Management Centre, Emm Lane,

Bradford, West Yorkshire BD9 4JL, U K

Abstract This paper uses a review of the literature to examine quality as a concept and in the
context of providing an operational understanding. T Q M is presented as a holistic approach
which requires customer orientation, empowered people, attention to the process, agood quality
system, and continuous improvement. The concepts, theories and components are assembled into
a new model for T Q M .
An examination of the ANBAR abstracting service for the 17 years up to an including 1988
shows that there has been an increase of more than six times in the number of papers
classified under 'quality', from 22 in 1971-72, to 134 in 1988-89. As can be seen in Fig. 1,
most of the increase has occurred since 1979, vol. 8, and is in the classification concerned
with production, rather than the non-production category. This indication of the growth
in the number of papers dealing with the subject corresponds with the increase in quality
awareness commented on by Juran (1988) and which he attributes to initiatives taken by
many companies in the early 1980s, in response to what amounted to a 'quality crisis' for
many U S manufacturing companies faced with competition from Japan.
T h e literature offers many recommendations for implementing total quality, and
principles for management. Different authors place their individual emphases, and it
might be inferred that substantially different philosophies are being represented. A more
careful analysis, however, reveals surprisingly similar content. It is possible to recognize
the influence of Feigenbaurn (1956), Juran (1964), Crosby (1979), and Deming (1982), to a
variable extent, in many subsequent works.
Many of the tools used in total quality management (TQM) have rigorous theoretical
background and are proven empirically, for example, many of the techniques and procedures
incorporated in statistical quality control (Shewhart, 1931), or more recently statistical
process control (Oakland & Followell, 1990). In sharp contrast, there is little published
research on other aspects, especially about the integration of the whole. Although most of
the little available empirical work is inconclusive, in general it tends to support the views
propounded by the acknowledged authorities (Garvin, 1988; Saraph et al., 1989).
Quality as a concept
Scholars face many problems when defining quality as an economic as opposed to a
transcendent concept. T h e difficulties it seems apply equally to goods and to services. In

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6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Vol 1 = 1971 Vol 18 = 1989
+- Prodn.
-c Non-Prodn.

Figure 1 . A N B A R Abstracts classed as quality of production (3.51) and quality (non-production) (2.58)

1968, Edwards used the definition 'quality is the capacity of a commodity or service to
satisfy human wants'. He noted that human 'wants' are complex, and may not always be
satisfied in a particular way, users of products make a personal assessment of quality. Each
case will be influenced by how well numerous aspects of performance are able to provide
satisfaction of multiple wants and further distinguished by the subjective importance
attached by the individual.
For many products, judgements must be made over their useful life, and reliability
and ease of maintenance must be taken into account. Another aspect of time and quality
was given almost 60 years ago by Shewhart (1931) who drew attention to the particular
difficulty of knowing and measuring what consumers will consider to be acceptable quality
in the future. Townsend & Gebhart (1986) separted 'quality of perception', as seen subjectively by the customer, from 'quality of fact', or performing to the standard which has
been set. Both need to be recognized and two of the most frequently repeated definitions of
quality, provided by Juran and by Crosby, illustrate this. Juran (1974) referred to quality
being 'fitness for purpose . . . judged by the user, not manufacturer, merchant, or repairman'. A different but equally important emphasis was given by Crosby (1979) who defined
quality as 'conformance to requirements, not elegance'.
These definitions are not mutually exclusive, as they may at first seem, but apply in
different contexts. What the two definitions have in common is (1) powerful simplification
of the concept and (2) they are memorable.
Both definitions have passed into general use and have even stimulated argument and
disagreement (Crosby, 1989). Some of this popular acceptance is because of implicit as
well as explicit meaning.
T h e strength of assumed meaning and implication, can create problems of understanding, however. For example, the word 'conformance' has strong desirable associations in the manufacturing function of a company, but may be anathema in the design



department of a firm making a product with a strong fashion element. Groocock (1986),
discussing this problem, pointed out that short messages can easily be misinterpreted
because of the wealth of implication that they carry. This was further supported by
research at AT&T (Lader & Alexander, 1988) which found that some messages, intended
to motivate for quality, have the opposite effect and stimulate negative feelings. Hence, the
words chosen to define and explain quality should be selected with careful attention to the
collective experience of the group concerned.

Quality in context

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An explanation of why quality should have different meanings in different contexts was
given by Garvin (1984,1988) by a recognition of five approaches:
transcendent or innate excellence;
product-based or the amount of a desirable attribute which is present;
user-based in the context of fitness for use;
manufacturing-based or conformance to specification;
value-based or satisfaction relative to price.
Garvin argued that these meanings can co-exist. Furthermore, it is necessary to
change the approach taken towards quality from user-based to product-based, as products
move through market research to design; and then from product-based to manufacturingbased, as they go from design into manufacture. He also noted that it may be necessary to
give quality different meanings in different industries.
This was partially explained by Cullen & Hollingham's (1988) assertion that total
quality, unlike a piece of equipment, cannot be purchased but 'must be developed in the
minds of everyone in the organization'. That Ford, after several years of quality improvement experience, have recently changed from using a 'conformance to requirement'
definition of quality to one which places more emphasis on customer, reliability and value,
suggests that it is necessary to be prepared to redefine quality in response to external
influences, and as organizational learning allows and dictates.The conclusion that may be
drawn from the above is that although quality, being the ability of products, goods and
services to satisfy human requirements, may have universal truth, it is also necessary to
have a more detailed expression of the meaning of quality in the context of the following:
the particular organization;
(2) specific activities and functions within the organization;
(3) the state of maturity and experience of the group(s) concerned.

This is consistent with that part of Harrington's (1987) recommendations for

improving quality in organizations, which suggests the need for first developing a common
understanding that is relevant to the enterprise as a whole, and then proceeding to refine
the meaning in functions, departments and work groups.

Need for an operational understanding of quality

Deming (1982, 1986) has succinctly observed that the concept is only the beginning of
meaning, since 'concepts are ineffable. . . the only communicable meaning is the record of
what happens on application'. In deciding what dimensions might be used to record the
'application' of quality, several of the models and structures described in the literature
have been considered. Some of these are listed in Table 1.



Table 1 . Selected quality tnodels

Ishikawa (CWQC)

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Saraph er al.


All functions, all employees, continuous improvement, customer

Planning, control, improvement
Philosophy, control, improvement
Context, barrier removal, empowering people, communication
Management, system, teamwork, tools
Customer, management, participation, systematic analysis
Management leadership, quality department, training, design, supplier
management, process management, process control, data and reporting,
employee relations

As most quality recommendations have evolved through work in the manufacturing

sectors (Garvin, 1988), and since none of the models summarized in Table 1 is considered
to be more appropriate than any other in respect of service quality, T Q M is here discussed
under six headings borrowed from several of the models.

Total quality management is holistic

Writing about the approach taken by Deming, Gabor (1988) observed that T Q M is holistic
in that it can only be conceived if it includes all the functions in the organization, all the
people who work there, and all the other organizations and individuals supplying and
receiving goods and services. This must not suggest an overview, however, since it also
requires attention to and understanding of the detailed operation of all processes and
functions (Deming, 1982).
T h e term 'Total Quality Control' was used by Feigenbaum in 1956 to emphasize that
quality control cannot be achieved by concentration on just the production function since
quality is determined at all stages in the industrial cycle, and the early stages, such as
design, have the most influence. Oakland (1989) has built on this and added that T Q M
enables every part of the organization to work towards the same goal. In a similar vein,
Ishikawa (1985) asserted the need for cross-functional management in the form of steering
committees and councils, to overcome sectionalism.
T h e representation of 'production as a system', used by Deming in Japan in 1950
(Deming, 1982, 1986) to show how improvement envelopes the entire operation, was
restated by Scholes & Hacquebord (1988) as the alternative to a chain of command view of
organization. Functions recognize internal supplier-customer relationships (Oakland,
1989), with the next process being the customer (Ishikawa, 1985). Not only should all
functions be involved in TQM, but so also should all the people in the organization.
Everyone needs to know what their job is and how it fits into the system if quality is to be
achieved (Ishikawa, 1985). This applies to all tasks, and to all levels in the organization
(Endosomwan, 1988).
T h e scope of total quality not only extends beyond operations to the other functions
within the organization, it also involves knowledge and understanding of suppliers and
their suppliers, and customers and their customers (Oakland, 1989). Several authorities
place emphasis on the way firms must work with suppliers, co-operating to prevent defects
through better understanding of respective processes and requirements (Deming, 1982,
1986; Juran, 1974; Ishikawa, 1985; Oakland, 1989). Product improvements are often also
dependent upon technological advances by suppliers of materials, and their supplier
(Price, 1984). Some organizations have reported benefits by encouraging contacts with



customers and suppliers at several levels, and including the operators in this (Doran,
Other organizations and lobbies, which do not have direct commercial links, also
influence considerations of quality. The consumer movement, Government action on
deregulation, development of national and international standards, and technological
advances, are all examples of this. Another, and in some situations a primary influence,
is competition. Quality as noted in the introduction, is at last being recognized as a
strategic issue, fundamental to survival in increasingly competitive situations (Peters,
1988; Heskett, 1986, 1987; Levitt, 1980).

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Customer orientation
Customer awareness and being responsive to customers requirements, is integral to TQM.
Its importance has been stressed by most authorities. Conway (1988) pointed out that
'customers define quality' and customer orientation is a cornerstone of several models,
including Japanese company-wide quality control. This emphasis is needed to overcome
the results of the process of industrialization which has tended to isolate producers from
the customer (Juran & Gryna, 1980)-an
observation made in a manufacturing context but
which can also be seen in the more mature and complex services, for example, in banks
where there are large numbers of 'operators' who work in the back office, not unlike those
in a factory (Levitt, 1979; Deming, 1982,1986).
People in direct customer contact, such as many people in the service sector, benefit
from direct feedback (Juran & Gryna, 1980). Even so, objective on-the-spot assessment of
that feedback is not always possible. Emigh (cited in Deming, 1982) observed that service
workers are not aware of the product (because it is intangible) and hence they may be
unable to visualize customer satisfaction.
In all types of organizations, it is necessary to know about customers' likes, tastes and
applications (Ishikawa, 1985). This applies to the immediate customer and the ultimate
user (Juran & Gryna, 1980). It is insufficient to rely solely on customer complaints. Careful
attentive listening to customers opinion is also needed (Hutchins, 1985; Kinsley, 1979;
Deming, 1982, 1986; Marr, 1986; Desatnick, 1987; Peters, 1988; Scholes & Hacquebord,
1988). This can be through formal market research (Juran 1974), and also by creating
opportunities for people at all levels, and in all positions in the organization, to be exposed
to customers (Doran, 1985; Peters, 1988).
Peters & Austin (1985) found that, although executives agree that customers are of
primary importance, very little is acted on. Marr (1986) attributed this to lack of trust in
customer research data because they are based on subjective perceptions, and he provided
some recommendations for making assessment more reliable; though these still rely on
subjective customer opinion. Leading organizations are active in this field and Hauser
(1988) gave examples of Japanese and U S companies using discussion with customers,
focus groups and qualitative interviews throughout the product development and design
process. These techniques, incorporated into quality function deployment (GFD)
(Sullivan, 1988), increase the effectiveness of customer consideration.
Even this level of customer involvement is not sufficient to determine future needs.
The customers of banks could not have anticipated 'charge cards'. It needed computer
technology, investment in the network and marketing before EFTPOS (electronic
financial transactions at point of sale) could be realized. It is often necessary to 'lead the
customer into the future' (Deming, 1982), but to focus creativity on the application, and
hence the customer, rather than to rely on 'giant technological leaps' (Peters, 1988).

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Attention to the process

One of the most important precepts in total quality, and a hallmark of its application in the
Far East, was noted by Oakland (1989) as the attention paid to the detail of the process.
Often improvements can only be achieved by involving people who have detailed knowledge of the process, or are in a position to acquire it. For example, a detailed flowchart of
anything more than the simplest process can seldom be completed without the help of
others (Oakland, 1989), since boundaries of responsibility are crossed by nearly all
processes in real organizations (Ishikawa, 1985).
Standards are necessary to know if the job has been completed and determining
methods leads naturally to standardization which is necessary for delegation of authority
(Ishikawa, 1985). Standards used merely as a means of preventing progress must be
avoided however (Juran, 1964). There are particular problems which apply in standardizing some service processes because of the variation which direct customer involvement
introduces (Morris & Johnston, 1987). Nevertheless some types of services have very
successfully applied standards. The fast food business (Levitt, 1979) provides and
example where setting service standards has contributed to simultaneous improvement in
efficiency and quality.
For Deming (1982, 1986), understanding the nature of variation is essential. The
causes of variation can be either 'common', and determined by the capability of the system,
or 'special' (Shewhart used 'random' and 'assignable'), and can be attributed to some
special event. Failure to distinguish one from the other will result in inappropriate adjustment actually increasing variability. A system is only manageable when it is in statistical
control, because then it is possible to predict output and measure the effect of changes.
Applying this in some parts of service organizations may prove difficult, because of the
problem of setting standards when customers are present during the operation, and
because of the difficulty in measuring multiple, intangible attributes.
T o clarify the relationship between cause and effect and to identify the factors which
hinder smooth functioning of the process, analysis using seven simple tools is adequate in
the majority of cases (Ishikawa, 1985). These are flowcharts, tally graphs, histograms,
Pareto analysis, scatter diagrams, Ishikawa (cause and effect) diagrams and control charts.
Most writers agree that statistical process control (SPC) is a key tool for the management of processes (Deming, 1982; Oakland & Followell, 1990; Endosomwan, 1988). Juran
and others wisely caution against any approach to quality driven only by technique. There
are numerous examples of SPC being used in manufacturing and some in other situations.
Deming gives many examples of what might be studied with statistics in service industries,
but does not include the less tangible process which, according to Morris & Johnston
(1987), are key differences between service and manufacture.
Difficulties with service processes compared with manufacturing processes were
summarized by Endosomwan (1988) as follows:
(1) more difficult to define ownership, measurement, cycle times, customers and
(2) both inputs and outputs are less tangible;
(3) more difficult to quantify;
(4) less well established;
(5) less repetition.
Williams & Zigli (1987) suggested that further research is needed into the application
of multivariate methods to produce information for the control of service processes. They



further suggested that operations research techniques like fuzzy set theory, and goal
programming, which can be useful in dealing with ambiguous and subjective information,
may also provide insights when applied to the problems of process improvement in

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Quality systems
Juran (1988) has stated that strategic planning for quality requires a corporate infrastructure, in a structure, in a similar way to strategic business planning. Many other
authorities also place stress on the need for a system so that, '. . . human, administrative
and technical factors affecting quality will be under control' (Oakland, 1989). Oakland
also explained that, in practice, gaining control takes the form of 'Quality Management
Systems' which are used to ensure that the customer's requirements and the organization's
requirements can be met. These systems are established within the context of the organization's quality policy and structure, and will incorporate a plan for achieving quality of
each product or service and be documented in a quality manual setting out the procedures
and practices in appropriate detail.
Oakland (1989) described how international and company standards, such as I S 0
9000 and Ford's Q l , provide a template for systems which can be used by organizations as
the stimuli to examine their activities, record what they actually do, and provide the basis
for standardization and improvement. This involves setting policy, developing quality
manuals, a quality information recording and analysis system, quality plans, and providing
for quality system checks by audit, survey and review.
Although Ishikawa (1985) recognized the role played by national standards in his
country's economic recovery, he also cautioned against 'self satisfaction' having achieved
the standard, and stressed the need for continuous improvement. Deming (1986)
reminded us that systems are not universally regarded as a positive factor since, to the
production worker, historically the system is mostly repressive. This suggests that systems, although necessary, should not be allowed to dictate, or be thought of as justification
for action or inaction of their own merit. Rather, according to Deming, systems must be
subordinate to, and supportive of, the organization's objectives.
There is the mistaken belief in some organizations that performance, as reflected in
terms of output figures, return on investment, etc., is separate from quality issues. This has
been blamed on specialization (Juran, 1988), perhaps resulting from wide adoption of
Taylor's 'scientific management' methods. Possibly the most persistent reason for this
misconception is constant reinforcement by the actions of senior managers to override
quality policies and standards in the interest of other priorities. In these circumstances
there is a need for a quality function with equivalent standing to other functions. Crosby
(1979) and Harrington (1987) have recommended the use of a procedure of corrective
action in which quality problems are escalated to successively higher levels in the management and quality function with the two parties acting in equality to resolve the issues
within the limits of their responsibility.
I n Japan, where there are few quality specialists (Ishikawa, 1985), procedure is
implicit as well as explicit, and works effectively because in many of the major organizations lifetime employment ensures common understanding and shared values (Ouchi,
1981). This does not mean that attention to quality manuals, plans and records, etc. are
unnecessary in any circumstances, but that the responsibility can rest with either a quality
function, which is the usual method in manufacturing in Europe and the USA, or with the
direct operational function concerned, as is practised in Japan. Notably, even in Japan,



sectional interests need to be balanced and senior level cross-functional councils are used
(Ishikawa, 1985). These are similar to steering committees which have been proposed
by Crosby and Harrington and which have been adopted by Western organizations
attempting to improve and maintain quality.
Garvin (1988) noted that when T Q M is achieved in an organization, quality is part of
every job description and the quality function can be performed by a small professional
group able to advise at all levels and provide strategic input to business decisions.

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Continuous improvement

The idea of continuous improvement is a cornerstone of the Deming philosophy as

practised in Japanese companies for many years. Quality should not be portrayed as a
programme with a definite end-point, but as a process. Crosby's 14-point plan for quality
improvement has, 'Do it over again', as the final point, to emphasize this aspect and also
recommends the use of novel projects to maintain interest among managers. He demands
improvement towards a standard of 'zero-defects', as opposed to a limit dictated by
Juran proposed annual improvement targets and project-by-project improvement
which are similar but, in contrast to Crosby, recognized an economic minimum, i.e. a point
beyond which it would be wasteful to expend more effort. Price (1984) dismisses this as the
'mathematics of mediocrity'. The apparent conflict between authorities concerning the
economics, and the principal, of continuous improvement, can be explained by noting that
economic trade-offs will exist, but only if external conditions are held constant. In practice,
it is never possible to hold constant conditions over an extended period of time since the
market and technology intervene. All the systems with which organizations are concerned
are 'open systems' and, unlike closed systems which settle inevitably to an equilibrium,
open systems adopt different states dependent upon the input conditions (Pall, 1987).
Hence, today's minimum is tomorrow's suboptimum and continuous improvement is
Deming uses the Shewhart cycle to illustrate continuous improvement. Continuation
of the cycle leads to a helix of improvement which is central to TQM.
Assembling the concepts, theories, and componentea new model for TQM

In this paper definitions have been reviewed and we find that quality is most usefully
expressed in terms of an ability to satisfy customer requirements. It is also apparent that
quality should be defined in the organizational context.
We have also seen that T Q M involves the entire organization: all people, all functions,
and including external organizations, such as suppliers. The several facets of T Q M have
been reviewed, including the following:
recognizing customers and discovering their needs;
setting standards which are consistent with customer requirements;
controlling processes and improving their capability;
establishing systems for quality;
management's responsibility for setting quality policy, providing motivation
through leadership, and equipping people to achieve quality;
empowerment of people at all levels in the organization to act for quality



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T h e task of implementing T Q M can be daunting and the chief executive and directors
faced with it may become confused and irritated by the proliferation of theories and
packages. A synthesis, and at the same time simplification, is required. Dominant within
T Q M must be customer-supplier interfaces, both internally and externally, which are
linked by operational processes converting inputs to outputs. A first step is commitment to
building in quality by management of the inputs.
How can we help senior managers and directors know what needs to be done to
implement T Q M and to become committed to quality? Drawing on the words of wisdom
in management and leadership of the so-called 'gurus' which many organizations are using
to establish a policy based on quality we have distilled 10 points for senior management to
adopt. Their sources will be clear to those well read in the field.
T h e organization needs long term commitment to constant improvement.
T h e philosophy of zero errorsldefects must be adopted to change the culture to
'right first time'.
Train the people to understand the customer-supplier relationships.
Do not buy on price alone-look at thc total cost.
Recognize that improvement of the systems has to be managed.
Adopt modern methods of supervision and training-eliminate fear.
Eliminate barriers between departments by managing the process-improve
communications and teamwork.
-goals without methods
-work standards based only on numbers
-barriers to pride of workmanship and
-fiction, get facts by using the correct tools.
Constantly educate and retrain-develop 'experts' and 'gurus'.
Develop a systematic approach to manage the implementation of T Q M .
These can be factored into soft and hard outcomes of T Q M . T h e soft outcomes form
the basis of our model (Fig. 2).
Identify customer-supplier relationships
Manage processes
T h e process core must also be surrounded by some 'hard' management necessities
-Systems (based on a good international standard),
-Teams (the councils, quality improvement teams, quality circles, corrective action
teams, etc.) and
-Tools (for analysis, correlations, and predictions for action for continuous
improvement to be taken).
T h e model (Fig. 3 ) now provides a three-dimensional T Q M 'vision' against which a
particular company's status can be examined, or against which a particular approach to
T Q M implementaiton may be compared and weakness highlighted.
Comparison with some of the models summarized in Table 1 shows that several
elements are in common, apart from semantic differences. Some other features of T Q M are
also present by implication. For example, 'Planning and Control' is a necessary element

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Figure 2 . Foundations for the TQM model.


Figure 3. TQM model.

within all the spheres. Similarly, many of the tools used to identify and resolve problems
are relevant to customer and people aspects of quality management, just as they are to the

We hope this conceptualization will help in understanding the differences of opinion

and approach referred to at the beginning of the paper and which are apparent in the

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