Commonalities between Total Quality and Scientific Management, and Follett's Law of Situation

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EDWARDS DEMING, MARY P. FOLLETT AND FREDERICK W. TAYLOR: RECONCILIATION OF DIFFERENCES IN ORGANIZATIONAL AND STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP Lonnie D. Phelps, McNeese State University Satyanarayana Parayitam, McNeese State University Bradley J. Olson, University of Lethbridge ABSTRACT Much has been written and researched about Deming’s ‘total quality management’ (TQM), Follett’s ‘law of situation’, and Taylor’s ‘scientific management’. Yet, these management scholars differ in their organizational and strategic leadership abilities and practices and remained in three different corners of a triangle. Though the differences in their thinking may be attributed to the changing nature of management as a discipline over a period of time and consequent changes in the fractionalized corporate ownership, there are some interesting commonalities found in their approaches. The purpose of this paper is to highlight some of the commonalities between total quality and scientific management, and explain how Follett’s law of situation bridges the gap between these seemingly different approaches. The commonalities found in Taylor, Follett and Deming provide enduring lessons for the practitioners and academicians, and enrich the organizational and strategic leadership literature. INTRODUCTION A review of the scientific management theory of Taylor, total quality management perspective of Deming, and systems thinking of Follett gives an impression that these scholars differ dramatically in their approaches apples to oranges (and grapes). However, by turning to the original works of Taylor, Deming and Follett (rather than others’ interpretations) one may opine that Taylor’s ideas have reemerged in the form of Deming’s quality management and Follett’s systems thinking paved a bridge between these perceived polar theories. This paper is divided into four sections. The first section gives a brief description of Deming’s total quality management (TQM); the second compares the scientific management principles of Taylor with TQM; and the third section compares Follett’s theory with Deming’s. In the final section we synthesize these approaches, contrary to the conventional wisdom, and conclude that these theories have more in common than it would seem. Academy of Strategic Management Journal, Volume 6, 2007

2 DEMING’S TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT Deming, with a doctorate in mathematical physics from Yale and a nomination for the Nobel Prize in 1992, was an extraordinary and remarkable individual. In fact, Deming was an institution in himself (he passed away in December 1993 at the age of 93 years), and an astute businessman who brought Japan back from the ashes of the World War II. In his time, Deming was the most powerful management consultant anywhere in the world, and a friend-consultant-advisor who made the Japanese post-second world war miracle possible (Stupak, 1999). Unsurprisingly, the emphasis on ‘quality’ placed the Japanese companies on the Fortune list. Having acted as a savior of Japan for three decades, Deming was invited by US business houses to make recommendations for retaining competitive strength and ensuring corporate survival. Deming pointed out seven deadly sins that plagued American businesses and suggested fourteen remedies in his outstanding book, “Out of Crisis”, published in 1986. By the 1990’s, American companies unquestionably started implementing the magic ‘quality pill’ as advocated by Deming in order to come ‘out of crisis’. The deadly sins and Deming’s 14 points are summarized in Table 1. Table 1: Deadly diseases and prescriptions by Deming Diseases that plagued the companies in the Western world (Deming, 1986: pp 96-97) 1. Lack of constancy of purpose 2. Emphasis on short-run profits 3. Evaluation by performance, merit rating and annual review of performance 4. Mobility of management 5. Running company on visible figures alone 6. Excessive medical costs for employee health care, which increase the final cost of goods and...
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