This thesis is a case study of how Total Quality Management (TQM) is used in the Åseda community in southern Sweden, in order to support societal development. The improvement work is conducted within a third sector association built on voluntary engagement. TQM is a concept that traditionally has been connected with business life, commercial and industrial organisations for manufacturing and production. The focus has been on, e.g., more effective processes, lower costs and more satisfied customers. However, TQM has become an independent discipline, and is now extended to involve quality of life. Improvement work is not only limited to workplaces, it can also be a way of improving life in local societies by the residents themselves through collaboration. Traditional TQM models and strategies for implementations are carried out to fit organisations and their activities in a workplace, in the commercial and public sectors. Other areas, such as, third sector organisations, could also benefit from adopting TQM concepts. However, the transfer of the TQM methodologies and tools to new environments with different cultures is not necessarily conducted without problems. Therefore, it is essential to map how TQM is used when applied to the third sector, including strengths, weaknesses, and other experiences. It is important to connect conducted empirical research with theory in order to develop the theory. TQM is still in the early stage of such a theoretical development. TQM in this thesis is considered to be a management system for continuous improvements, containing values, methodologies and tools. In this thesis a qualitative case study of a non-profit organisation in a Swedish community is conducted. The study describes strengths, weaknesses and other experiences from applying TQM in a non-profit organisation in the third sector, with the aim of supporting societal development. The association, "Progressive Åseda", is working with concepts from TQM, although the participants consider it difficult to apply TQM concepts to daily life. Core values have been developed and some methodologies are applied. A more general conclusion is that the concept of TQM, and its methodologies and tools, can be difficult to apply in full if the users are not trained. There are needs for education and training in the groups, but also of the new leaders of the association. The analysis indicates that the leadership in Åseda's work with TQM needs to be "soft" and diplomatic when managing unpaid persons and volunteers. A second indicator is that the improvement work is structured through improvement groups, which are part of the constituted association. The groups and their work are appreciated by both members of the improvement groups and the leaders as successful and important. Among the effects experienced by local business representatives the most obvious one is that well-being and ease among Åseda's residents have increased. The common activities, and the collaboration in Åseda between companies, organisations, private persons and politicians, have also increased. Based on theory and the experiences from the study a three-phase tentative model is suggested for organising improvement work in a non-profit association.
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2002. , 121 p.