Total Quality Management (TQM) has become a frequently used term in discussions concerning quality. The international and national competitive environment is in a process of constant change by the globalisation of markets and the increased interdependence of economic agents. This process of change has brought increased demands on the organisations’ competitiveness and the customers have gained a central role in the organisations’ focus. TQM is considered to be an important management philosophy, which sustains the organisations in their efforts to obtain satisfied customers. However, there exist extensive numbers of examples of failed or badly performed implementation processes of TQM. The relatively frequent occurrence of failed or badly performed implementation processes is a problematic phenomenon, which negatively affects organisations, irrespective of size, in their development towards business excellence and ultimately survival in a competitive environment. The use of TQM among many Western organisations has been relatively high during the 1990s, but diversity among researchers exists regarding the actual benefits of TQM. The issue regarding the relationship between successful TQM implementation and financial performance, when considering the incentives for the large organisational change a TQM implementation implies, is important. The role and contribution, which small organisations make to the economy, has become widely recognised. As all organisations, regardless of size and financial status, are involved in the quality revolution, issues concerning the quality development of small organisations are of major importance. This thesis presents results from two different research projects, described in five appended papers. The first project concerns the relationship between TQM implementation and financial performance within a Swedish context. The results, obtained by studying Swedish quality award recipients, indicate that organisations that have successfully implemented TQM perform better than the general mass of organisations, during a period following the award acknowledgment. The second project concerns implementation and use of TQM in small organisations. In this project, two multiple-case studies have been conducted in order to describe experiences from implementing and working with TQM. These multiple-case studies have been conducted by studying quality award recipients among small organisations. The analysis of these organisations indicates that some of the core values of TQM, which are often described as the basis of the concept, are more adequate than others when initiating the quality development work. These core values were leadership, everybody’s commitment and customer focus. The results also point out how small TQM organisations organise their quality activities and what their actual quality related work constitutes. In addition, the studies also visualise the importance of committed management and co-workers in order to accomplish the substantial organisational change that is necessary in order to implement TQM. Important areas for facilitating the development of commitment among the involved actors in the change process are described. Furthermore, the problems related to the work with the core value process orientation were a distinct feature of the studied organisations. These problems were mainly due to the knowledge situation in the organisations. The experiences from the successful implementation processes emerge in an overarching tentative implementation model consisting of three phases.
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2003. , 114 p.